A new study links breastfeeding with IQ, and income, later in life.

Breastfeeding. Not only is it a good source of food for our infants, but there also seems to be a correlation with the length of time a baby is breastfeeding, and their IQ. A Lancet study was done in Pelotas, Brazil, looking at just this correlation. These studies are harder to do in more developed countries where higher socioeconomic groups are more apt to breastfeed. In Brazil, by contrast, the proportion of mothers breastfeeding is about equal throughout all of the socioeconomic groups.

The study, written about on Vox.com, followed children from birth until the age of 30. What the study looked for was the length of time that babies were breastfed as well as their IQ, and income. It was found that the longer a child was breastfed that the better their IQ, and income were at the age of 30. The study showed a four-point difference between children breastfed for less than a month when compared to those breastfed for over a year.

So what is causing this difference?

Is it what’s in the breast milk? Is it the time the child spends with mom? Is it the connection, the safety, and the love that the child is getting while being breastfed? I honestly don't know if we’ll ever know the answer to why there is this difference. But it does make me thankful for the time that my own mother spent breastfeeding me. I know not everyone is able to breastfeed for a long time for many different reasons. This does not mean that you cannot still spend that time with your child.

In the past, I have recommended for some patients to get breast milk from breast milk banks. But after other recent articles where it was found that the breast milk from the milk banks can sometimes be “watered down” with cows milk, and other things, I am not sure that I can continue to recommend that path unless the milk bank is a well-monitored one.

The WHO, World Health Organization, recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. After that, they suggest about another year, and a half of partial breastfeeding along with baby food. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ breastfeeding recommendations are a minimum of 12 months.  The sad, and scary, thing is that the average US baby is breastfed for just three months.

I want to thank my patients for breastfeeding their children as long as they are able to, as long as their child wants it, and for trusting their bodies. I know breastfeeding is a choice, and I hope it is a choice most women will make for the betterment of their children today, and in the future.

Source: Vox Media