Monday, July 29, 2013
Breast-Fed Baby May Become Higher-IQ Child, Study Suggests
By Denise Mann
Mothers can add higher child IQ to the list of benefits associated with breast-feeding: New research shows that the longer a new mom breast-feeds up to one year, the greater the benefit on her baby's intelligence.
Babies who were breast-fed for the first year of life gained 4 points on their IQ, compared with babies who were not breast-fed for as long, according to the findings, published online July 29 in JAMA Pediatrics. These children were better able to understand what others were telling them (receptive language) at 3 years and had higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence at 7 years.
"These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breast-feeding through age 6 months and continuation of breast-feeding through at least age 1 year," the study authors concluded.
For the study, researchers led by Dr. Mandy Belfort, of Boston Children's Hospital, followed more than 1,300 mothers and their children. Moms were asked about breast-feeding at 6 and 12 months. Children completed standard intelligence tests at age 3 years and 7 years. Breast-fed babies scored higher on these tests even when researchers controlled for other factors that may affect a child's IQ such as the mom's intelligence.
Belfort's team also looked at whether fish intake while breast-feeding had any bearing on childhood intelligence, but it did not seem to have a major effect. Some research had suggested that omega-3 fatty acids in fish may be important for infant brain development.