According to a new Brazilian study investigating the link between breastfeeding and intelligence, breastfed babies could be more likely to turn into higher-earning and better-educated adults.
Published in the Lancet Global Health journal , the study focused on 6,000 babies, who researchers had been following from birth for the past 30 years. 3,500 of them agreed to sit IQ tests and findings showed that those who had been breastfed were more intelligent, had spent longer in school and earned more too.
Furthermore, children who had been breastfed for longer exhibited higher-yielding results. Those who had been breastfed for 12 months had an IQ that was four points higher than those who had been breastfed for less than a month, nearly a year more in education and earned around £70 a month more.
Speaking to The Guardian , Dr Bernardo Lessa Horta from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil commented, “Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability.”
With participants evenly distributed across the social classes, the findings were said to not have been affected by more affluent upbringings. Family income at birth, parental schooling, genomic ancestry, maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal age, birthweight and type of delivery were all taken account.
However, it should be important to highlight Horta highlighted that breastfeeding isn’t the only factor in giving your baby the best possible start as he acknowledged that extended breastfeeding isn’t easy for all women. The influence that mother’s had their children’s development in other ways couldn’t be discounted. He added, “Some people say it is not the effect of breastfeeding but it is the mothers who breastfeed who are different in their motivation or their ability to stimulate the kids.”
If you are having trouble breastfeeding you’re not alone - as highlighted above it’s incredibly common and there are so many other factors that are important in the upbringing of your baby. If you’re catering to their wider health, education and wellbeing needs, chances are you’re doing absolutely fine! If you’d like to find out more information on breastfeeding help and support though, visit www.nhs.uk for some useful advice.