New research has shown that there is a quantitative difference in a child’s intelligence depending on whether or not they have been breastfed as a baby.
According to a research for the European Journal of Pediatrics, preschool-aged children who were breastfed longer than six months scored 38 points higher than those who were not breastfed. If the babies were breastfed for four to six months, they scored 2.6 points higher, and those who were fed for only three months only scored 2.1 points higher than those who have not had breast milk.
468 babies born to non-smoking mothers took part in the study and tested five times from the time of their birth to preschool.
Tonse Raju, a neonatal specialist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says: “An infant suckling at his or her mother's breast is not simply receiving a meal, but is intensely engaged in a dynamic, bidirectional, biological dialogue.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both recommend only breast milk for the first six months of a baby’s life.
Regarding breastfeeding, WHO says it “is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.”
“Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond,” according to WHO.
Breastfeeding has been endorsed by these organizations because it is widely said that the mother’s milk helps fight long-term diseases for both mother and child.
In February this year, the Internal Revenue Service announced that breast pumps and other nursing equipment and supplies will be eligible for tax breaks. Also, President Obama’s health care reform law requires employers to allow nursing women to take lactation breaks so they can still provide breast milk to their child whilst working.