Produces Smarter Kids
(Reuters Health) - Children who are breast-fed for 6 months or
longer may be smarter than their peers who nursed for less than
3 months, study findings suggest.
But the differences
in IQ scores were small and should not have a major impact on
most children, one of the study's authors told Reuters Health.
Vik, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in
Trondheim, Norway, and colleagues followed 345 Scandinavian children
from birth until they turned 5 years old. The children's motor
skills and mental development were evaluated at 13 months and
5 years of age.
who had been breast-fed at least 6 months had on average an 8-point
higher IQ at age 5 compared to children who had been breast-fed
less than 3 months,'' Vik told Reuters Health.
of breast-feeding had no effect on a child's motor skills, the
researchers report in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The link between
breast-feeding and smarter children was still statistically significant
after the investigators accounted for several factors including
the mother's intelligence, her socioeconomic status and whether
I think this is explained by biological factors in the breast
milk,'' Vik said. The Norwegian researcher noted that infant formula
does not contain several essential fatty acids and growth factors
that are present in breast milk.
``is a further documentation of the superiority of breast milk,''
according to Vik.
in everyday life this difference in IQ is unlikely to play a practical
role,'' Vik said. ``But, like other things we do to improve our
own health, if the mother is able to breast-feed for 6 months,
it will add to the other positive effects of breast milk.
``On the other
hand, mothers who are, or were, not able to breast-feed for as
long as 6 months, or not all, may be reassured that if other factors
contributing to a good cognitive development are optimal, breast-feeding
may play only a minor role,'' Vik noted.
IQ in all children, regardless of the length of breast-feeding,
was at least 100, which indicates average intelligence.
pointed out that breast-feeding may play a greater role in the
cognitive development of children who are more at risk of diminished
development, such as those who are undernourished, were born prematurely
or who live in poverty.
Archives of Disease in Childhood 2001;85:183-188.
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