THURSDAY, May 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Breastfeeding has long been thought to help increase a child’s IQ, but other factors such as the mother’s level of education and/or social status could also be responsible for part of this benefit.
Now, a new study shows that babies who were breastfed for six months or more performed better on tests measuring verbal and spatial relationship skills up to age 14 compared to children who weren’t. not breastfed as babies. The findings held after the researchers controlled for the education level and socioeconomic status of the mothers.
“In some countries, mothers from more socially advantaged backgrounds and mothers who score higher on cognitive tests are more likely to breastfeed their babies for longer, and it has been argued that the relationship between breastfeeding and cognitive development is due to these differences,” said study lead author Reneé Pereyra-Elías. He is a researcher at the University of Oxford in England.
However, “after controlling for socioeconomic circumstances and maternal cognitive abilities, longer breastfeeding durations are associated with higher cognitive scores in children, even up to age 14,” said added Pereyra-Elias.
Breast milk contains polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients, which promote brain development, he said. “It also contains microRNAs, which are pieces of genetic code responsible for programming our brain to develop and function properly,” Pereyra-Elías said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as foods are introduced for a year or more. Prolonged breastfeeding is associated with a long list of potential health benefits, including a lower risk of infections and certain diseases.
For the study, researchers followed more than 7,800 infants born in the UK from 2000 to 2002 until they were 14 years old. Twenty-three percent of infants were breastfed for six months or more and about 34% were not breastfed at all.
The children took tests measuring verbal and spatial relationship skills when they were 5, 7, 11 and 14 years old. Test scores were higher in children who were breastfed longer, even when the researchers adjusted for other factors.
Not all women can breastfeed, and that doesn’t mean their children will be disadvantaged. “It’s important to remember that the potential gains in cognitive ability in children breastfed for several months would amount to just 2-3 IQ points on the usual IQ scale, in which the average is 100,” Pereyra said. -Elias.
This difference is more pronounced at the population level. “If an entire population, on average, increases its IQ by 2-3 points, we could see significant differences,” added the researcher.
The study is published in the May 25 issue of PLOS ONE.
Outside experts point out that there are other ways to make sure your baby is developing well.
Dr. Linda Dahl is an otolaryngologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
“There are many ways to bond with your baby. Breastfeeding is part of that,” Dahl said. “If for some reason you can’t give your baby breastmilk, that doesn’t mean he’ll be less intelligent or have trouble. to live.”
As a pediatric practice nurse in Florida, Michelle Ferguson advises new moms on how best to help their babies achieve their goals.
“If a woman can’t breastfeed, I’ll suggest age- and stage-appropriate activities and close bonding, because they don’t have a lot of bonding when bottle-feeding,” said Ferguson, also an assistant professor. nurses in Florida. Atlantic University. Additionally, infant formula mimics the composition of breast milk so all babies can experience the benefits associated with breastfeeding, she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains how breastfeeding is good for your baby’s immune system.
SOURCES: Reneé Pereyra-Elías, MSc, doctoral student and researcher, University of Oxford, England; Linda Dahl, MD, otolaryngologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; Michelle Ferguson, DNP, MSN, assistant professor, nursing, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton; PLOS ONEMay 25, 2022
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