Study Shows Breastfeeding Can Make Your Baby Smarter

Creative Commons License photo credit: Caitlinator

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published the results of a series of studies which showed that babies who are breastfed grow to be demonstrably more intelligent than babies who are bottle fed. Over 7,000 babies were considered in the study, which considered how several aspects of breastfeeding might influence a child’s intelligence, including:

  • The nutritional values of breast milk and formula
  • The impact of mother-infant bonding on intelligence

Children in the study who were breastfed had an average IQ of 5.2 points over those who were bottle fed. While five points of difference isn’t enough to determine whether your child will attend trade school or an Ivy League college, it is enough to make a marked difference.

The study estimates that 60% of the IQ benefits received by breastfeeding are related to the actual nutritional value of the mother’s breast milk. The remaining 40% are attributable to emotional benefits the baby derives from the close contact with mom during her first year. If that’s true, your baby gets an extra 3.2 points of IQ from the nutritional value of your breast milk and a 2 point bonus for the extra cuddle time.

Linking breastfeeding to IQ is nothing new. There have been scads of studies which have shown that babies who are breastfed tend to be more intelligent as children and adults. This particular study, however, went to great lengths to eliminate other factors. Factors which were considered and weighted in the results include:

  • Economic status of the mothers involved
  • Education level of the mothers involved
  • Smoking habits of the mothers involved
  • Birth order of the children involved
  • Birth weight of the children involved

It’s worth noting that the difference between breastfed babies and bottle fed babies dropped to 3.1 points of IQ after all of the factors had been weighed in. This shows that mothers who are statistically more likely to breastfeed (i.e. those who are more educated, non-smokers, in a better income bracket) also have other factors which could explain part of the difference in intelligence. Still, almost 60% of the IQ benefits of breastfeeding remained after all those factors were considered.

Do you believe breastfeeding will make your baby more intelligent? Which benefits of breastfeeding are most important to you?


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