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Breastfed babies achieve more in life, have higher IQs and make more money, study finds


Breastfeeding

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(NaturalNews) New research has shown a connection between breastfeeding and intelligence. Many mothers choose to breastfeed to bond with their baby, to provide optimum nutrition and for the convenience, but the lifetime effects go beyond this. Most people, researchers and doctors agree that breastfed babies are more intelligent. However, whether this intelligence carries over into adulthood has not been studied until recently.

According to the World Health Organization, the connection between breastfeeding and intelligence has been observed since as early as 1929. In a 1929 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers Carolyn Hoefer, M.A., and Mattie C. Hardy, Ph.D., presented their findings after they studied 383 children in Chicago. The children were between the ages of 7 and 13 and were breastfed for varying lengths of time as babies. The researchers found that babies who were breastfed longer turned out to be more successful academically.

The research

Researchers in Brazil began following 6,000 breastfed babies in 1982. The babies were from various socioeconomic backgrounds, so wealth was not a factor affecting the study's results. Thirty years later, researchers discovered a connection between intelligence and the duration that the babies were breastfed. For example, babies who nursed for a year scored four points higher on IQ tests than babies who nursed for a month, according to the research presented in The Guardian.

Of the 6,000 babies, who are now adults, 3,500 agreed to participate in the study. Along with higher intelligence levels, researchers found a link between breastfeeding and education. Those who nursed, and nursed for longer durations, typically received a higher level of education. The intelligence and education levels led to those people getting better-paying jobs. Those who nursed for a year earned approximately 100 dollars more a month than those who nursed for a month.

Arguments against whether it was the breastfeeding, the bond between mother and baby or the mother's ability to educate and nurture her child exist. Many people feel that mothers who choose to breastfeed have more time to spend with their baby and can enhance the child's intelligence through the early teaching of skills.

While this argument is valid, the World Health Organization points out that breast milk contains specific cognition-improving nutrients. Breast milk has long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Two of these have a direct effect on brain function, growth and size: docosahexaenoic acid, DHA; and arachidonic acid, AA. Breastfed babies have an increase in brain volume and white matter which shows that breast milk directly alters the brain structure, affecting cognition.

Many studies have examined the link between breastfeeding and intelligence. Even when other factors are removed, such as early stimulation by the mother and improved health habits taught by the parents, breastfed children still tested at a higher IQ level than children who were not nursed.

Breastfeeding is one of the factors that contributes to a person's intelligence, educational level and overall earnings. Studies show that the longer a mother nurses, the better her child's response. Not all women are successful at breastfeeding, however, and some need support from groups found through local hospitals and doctor's offices. Mothers should try to breastfeed for as long as possible, with the goal to nurse for at least six months, according to the World Health Organization.

Sources:


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://apps.who.int[PDF]

http://www.theguardian.com

http://jama.jamanetwork.com

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