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Prolonged, Exclusive Breast-Feeding Can Make Kids Smarter

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A study published in the May 2008 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry once again confirmed that breastfeeding has many advantages over bottle-feeding for infants, including a boost in IQ.

The large randomized trial conducted on 17,046 healthy infants showed that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding improves children's cognitive development. Mothers from the intervention group were encouraged to breastfeed, thus having a higher percentage of exclusive breastfeeding compared to the control group. Mothers in the intervention group were also breastfeeding for a longer period of time.

Researchers compared children's performance at 6.5 years of age using a general test of intelligence (WASI) and teacher's evaluation of children's academic performance in reading, writing, mathematics and other subjects.

Taking WASI results and teacher evaluations into account, children from the intervention group had better results in every aspect. WASI measures showed average IQ advantage of 7.5 points for verbal, 2.9 points for performance, and 5.9 points for full-scale IQ.

Despite these findings, researchers are still unsure what exactly contributes to the positive effect of breastfeeding. Lead researcher, Dr. Michael S. Kramer, said:“It could be something in the milk, or it could be the physical contact between the mother and the baby.“

Nowadays it is universally known that breast milk carries so many benefits that it overshadows any infant formula. But people did not know that back in the 1950s, when breastfeeding was less fashionable than the use of infant formula. Breastfeeding not only improves infant's IQ, but it also provides all the substances the infant will need for its development; appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones. It also contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA - an essential omega-3 acid) and cholesterol, both having a huge role in brain development.

Astonishingly, breast milk changes over time in response to feeding patterns of the infant. Moreover, milk also contains mother's antibodies and lymphocytes which help the baby to fight off infections. Physical contact between mother and child has a special purpose beyond being important in building the bond between them. During breastfeeding, when the mother is touching and caressing her baby, she unknowingly picks up pathogens from infants skin, builds up antibodies against them and passes them to her child through milk.

According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), breastfed infants show better overall health with fewer hospital admissions and other conditions such as ear infections, diarrhoea, rashes and allergies, comparing to bottle-fed babies.



Very interesting information. I really didn't know some of these facts. I hope that these investigations will show results.

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