Breastfed kids grow smarter and brighter

May 6th, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 6 (IANS) Children and adults breastfed as infants not only score higher on IQ tests but also perform better on thinking, learning and memory parameters. Teachers also rate these children higher academically both in reading and writing, compared to those who were not fed breast milk.

The evidence is based on studies of breastfed and non-breastfed children. Michael S. Kramer, of Montreal Children’s Hospital, Canada and colleagues conducted a random trial of a breastfeeding promotion programme, involving patients at 31 maternity hospitals and affiliated clinics in Belarus.

Between June 1996 and December 1997, clinics were randomly assigned to adopt a programme supporting and promoting breastfeeding or to continue their current practices and policies.

A total of 7,108 infants and mothers who visited facilities promoting breastfeeding and 6,781 infants and mothers who visited control facilities received follow-up interviews and examinations between 2002 and 2005, when the children were an average of 6.5 years old.

Mothers who visited a facility promoting breastfeeding were more likely to feed their infants only breast milk at three months (43.3 percent versus 6.4 percent in the control group) and at all ages through one year.

At age 6.5, the children in the breastfeeding group scored an average of 7.5 points higher on tests measuring verbal intelligence, 2.9 points higher on tests measuring non-verbal intelligence and 5.9 points higher on tests measuring overall intelligence.

Essential long-chain fatty acids and a compound known as insulin-like growth factor I, both found in breast milk, could be responsible for the cognitive differences.

On the other hand, the physical or emotional component of breastfeeding may lead to permanent changes affecting brain development.

Breastfeeding also may increase verbal interaction between mother and child, which could improve children’s cognitive development.

These findings appear in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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