Breastfeeding and its link to Intelligence

 

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No one can dispute the fact that breast milk is best for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months.  Expectant mothers may attend breastfeeding classes or hire lactation consultants to prepare themselves for the task. There are even support groups for moms who struggle with breastfeeding.

 

Advantages of Breastfeeding

 

Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants. It has everything the baby needs to grow – the right combination of protein, vitamins and fats, including the antibodies that will protect the baby from viruses and bacteria. Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months are found to have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea.

Breastfeeding is advantageous not just to the baby but for the mother as well. Moms who breastfeed have quicker recovery from delivery and have reduced postpartum bleeding. They also have an easier time shedding off the weight they gained during pregnancy. Studies claim that they also have reduced risk for developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding establishes a bond between the mother and child. While a mother nurses, good hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin are released and this brings forth a feeling of fulfilment and joy from the mother-child connection.

 

Breastfeeding and Intelligence

 

Pediatrics published a study wherein around 8000 families in Ireland were randomly selected to participate. Standardized tests were given to gather information on children’s problem behavior, ability to express and cognitive ability at age 3 and 5 years. The study found out that when it comes to behavior, breast-fed babies were less hyperactive by age 3 but at the age of 5, the impact of breastfeeding on hyperactivity appears to have faded. When it comes to intelligence, breast-fed babies did not score significantly higher on scores. It can be concluded then that breastfed babies do not necessarily grow up to be more intelligent than their formula-fed peers.

When it comes to intelligence, socio-economic factors, behavior and environment determines one’s cognitive ability. Babies who were read to and are exposed to books and other educational materials will have the tendency to be smart when they grow up. Exposing them to words even when they cannot talk back yet and engaging them in conversation later on will develop their ability to express. Educational toys such as puzzles will develop their analytical skill. Letting them interact with peers will develop their EQ. These are the things that will make them smarter. Breast milk’s power does not cover intelligence.

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