Breastfeeding IQ, A new study solidifies the connection between breast-feeding and intelligence, but it’s not the only way that mom can influence youngsters’ IQ, even before birth.
While previous studies have drawn a link between breastfeeding and cognition, and even extended an association to higher social status, it’s never been absolutely clear whether the connection was due to the breast milk or to the bond that the practice builds between mom and child, which can itself enhance brain development. Or, for that matter, whether it was mom’s (and dad’s) own education and social status that filtered through in their parenting that contributed to their children’s IQ.
But researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, reporting in JAMA Pediatrics, say they have conducted the most comprehensive study to date to flesh out how much breast feeding influences brain development in youngsters. They teased away as many factors known to contribute to intelligence as possible, such as mother’s IQ, parental income and education, and whether the toddlers spent time in child care outside of the home. They also collected detailed information from 1,312 babies and mothers on how long the moms breast fed their babies, whether the infants were exclusively breastfed, and how much fish the mothers consumed, since omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish are also present in breast milk and known to influence brain development.