New mothers are told that breast-milk is best for baby. Studies have shown that babies have better immune systems when they are breastfed. New studies are now showing that they may actually be smarter as well.
Children who were breastfed took language and intelligence tests at the ages of three and seven scored better than those who were fed via bottle through most of their infancy. It was also found that for each extra month that the mother chose to breastfeed her child, they scored slightly better. This was not true for motor skills and memory tests however.
Dr. Mandy Belfort of Boston Children’s Hospital led the study. She says that this new information could help mothers who are struggling to decide whether to bottle feed or not. She says there are many factors that go into making that decision however, such as the time it takes from your family and work to breastfeed. It is not for everyone, but it is good for the mother to be fully informed about both options before making such a decision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be breastfed until six months, and then solid foods should be introduced along with the breast milk. Dr. Belfort says the findings in this study coincides with this recommendation.
The study was conducted on 1,312 women from Massachusetts who were pregnant between 1999 and 2002. They reported as to whether they had ever breastfed and if they did when they stopped. Then the researchers gave the mothers and the children intelligence tests. The language tests that were given at the age of three had an average score of 103.7 which increased by around 0.21 points for every extra month of breastfeeding. At age seven it was 112.5 and a 0.35 point difference.
Breastfeeding has been linked to lower risks of eczema and ear infections as well as other illnesses, but it is up to the mother to decide what is best for her and the lifestyle that she lives.