A recent study by a team of Brazilian researchers has confirmed that babies breastfed by their mothers for up to a year have a higher Intelligent Quotient (IQ) than others, even up to adulthood.

The study was carried out on about 6,000 children in Pelotas, Brazil and the participants were followed up to their adulthood at the age of 30.

Information was gathered from about 3,500 participants who went through an IQ test and it was discovered that longer breast feeding resulted in higher intelligence, longer schooling and higher earnings.

An infant who had been breastfed for at least a year gained a full four IQ points (about a third of standard deviation above the average), and a higher income.

EurekAlert, a global source for science news quoted Bernardo Lessa Horta, a doctor and lead author of the research, as saying one of the benefits of breast milk is the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHAs).

“The likely mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of breast milk on intelligence is the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHAs) found in breast milk, which are essential for brain development,” Horta said.

“Our finding that predominant breastfeeding is positively related to IQ in adulthood also suggests that the amount of milk consumed plays a role.”

During the study, factors considered to determine the benefits of breast feeding include duration of breast feeding, family income at birth, parental schooling, genomic ancestry, maternal smoking during pregnancy and maternal age.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends up to six months of exclusive breastfeeding, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Also, it recommends that the colostrum – the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy – is a perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

The long-breastfeeding-for-babies campaign looks to be gaining increasing popularity among women. During a personal interaction with two mothers who were on a visit to a first-time nursing mother, the two mothers both advised their counterpart to breast feed her baby for at least a year and the half, that is 18 months, saying that longer breast feeding would increase the child’s intelligence and academic performance. Both gave examples of their own long breastfeeding regime and its role in the positive academic performances of their children.

Therefore, more women must know that it is not in their interest for their babies to have their breasts for anything less than a year.



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