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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Breastfeeding & Brains

A new Harvard Medical School study, just out from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, shows a strong effect of extended breastfeeding on childhood cognition.

After adjusting for maternal intelligence, home environment and other social and demographic factors, breastfed children performed significantly better on intelligence assessments over the first few years of life.  3-year-olds scored an extra 0.21 points for every month they'd been breastfed, on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test; and 7-year-olds added an extra 0.35 verbal points, and an extra 0.29 nonverbal points, for every month at the breast, on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test.

As the researchers sum up: "Our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding duration with receptive language and verbal and nonverbal intelligence later in life."

Good to know!

Add that to better immunity from bacterial and viral infections, lower risk of obesity in childhood, better bonding with mother, and lower rates of breast and ovarian cancers. It isn't always easy to start breastfeeding, and it isn't always easy to keep breastfeeding, but it's absolutely worth trying.