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Does breastfeeding increase IQ?

Does breastfeeding increase IQ?

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - November 20th, 2014

Does breastfeeding increase IQ?

Well, according to researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University it does look like there is a correlation between breastfeeding and higher IQ. More than 1,000 babies who were breastfed from their mothers for at least a 6 month period were included in this research study. After that, the children who were breastfed were given a vocabulary test at the age of three and took an IQ test at the age of seven. It seems the children who were breastfed did have a higher IQ and this was actually cumulative over time with one-third of an IQ point per month of breastfeeding. So, that means if a child was breastfed for 6 months his or her IQ would be 2 points higher than if he or she was not breastfed.


According to Dr. Mandy Belfort, the lead pediatrician for this study at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Professor, says “It adds to the literature in support of the idea that breastfeeding does positively impact a child’s intelligence, I don’t think there’s any one study that’s going to be a complete slam dunk, but it’s definitely evidence in support of that idea. We found a little hint in that direction, but nothing definitive, and we certainly didn’t find any evidence that eating fish while breast-feeding was harmful, which is important because there are some concerns about mercury in fish being toxic to the developing brain.”

So, this may prove a link but definitely doesn’t prove a causation that breastfeeding causes higher IQ. There are, of course, socioeconomic factors that come into play that weren’t accounted for in this study. It seems if a mother can breastfeed then it’s always preferred over formula feeding since there are other studies that indicate it can benefit a child’s immune system and combat obesity. Also, if you want a smarter child it may help to breastfeed as long as possible. Wondering how smart your child is? Find out with a 100 free practice questions.


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