A study published in the Lancet Global Health on March 17 shows that breastfeeding boosts intelligence. Prolonged breastfeeding is linked with longer schooling, higher intelligence and higher income in adulthood. The cause to it may be the fact that the fatty acids in the breast milk are beneficial for the brain.
Co-author of the study, Bernardo Lessa Horta of the Federal University of Pelotas (Brazil) says that their study offers the first evidence to the fact that breast milk has an influence both on educational accomplishment and on the ability to earn money. What makes this study different form other studies is the fact that whereas other investigations were accused of having been conducted only in regions which were socioeconomically favored, in this study breastfeeding was evenly distributed regardless of social class.
The study was conducted on people born in 1982 in Pelotas, Brazil. The researchers noted information about the breast-feeding in early childhood and analyzed their IQ, education attainments and financial gain when the subjects were approximately 30 years old.
A multiple linear regression was used for the study. The 10 variables taken into account included smoking during pregnancy, maternal age, maternal body mass index before pregnancy, gestational age, type of delivery, birth weight, genomic ancestry, household score index and parental education. Only 3493 of the 5914 participants in the study could offer information about breastfeeding and IQ.
The results showed that those who had been breastfed for 12 month or longer had a higher IQ, higher number of education years and a higher income in comparison with those who had been fed breast milk for less than 1 month. Naturally, the effect on the financial gain at the age of 30 is influenced By the IQ value. This was the case in 72% of the subjects.
Breastfeeding has such an increased influence on the later development of the newborn’s intelligence because of the omega-3 fatty acid (docosahexaenoic acid) present in the breast milk. This acid is essential for the development of the brain.
Erik Lykke Mortensen of the University of Copenhagen, Department of Public Health and Center for Healthy Aging said that breastfeeding indeed has a long-term effect on intelligence which will influence life achievements in a society where breastfeeding is not extensively used. However, these results must be confirmed by further research conducted on life achievements owed to breastfeeding and its long-term effects.
Image Source: Fine Art America
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