Breastfeeding makes smarter, study finds
A long-term breastfeeding may contribute to increased intelligence, more schooling, and better incomes as adults, according to a Brazilian study published in the journal The Lancet Global Health.
In a comment attached to the study, another expert, Dr. Erik Mortensen of the University of Copenhagen, however, that these works have yet to be confirmed.
Breastfeeding is encouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO) which has as one of the “most effective means” to ensure the health and survival of the child.
It recommends breastfeeding until six months, but recognizes that less than 40% of infants worldwide benefit today.
The study by researchers at the University of Pelotas in Brazil studied the fate of 3,500 children born in 1982 and breastfed at the beginning of their existence for variable periods.
Thirty years later, they found that breastfeeding was beneficial for all of them, compared to those who had not been breastfed and that the benefit was even more important than the duration of the breastfeeding had been long.
According to these researchers, those breastfed for a year would have an IQ (intelligence quotient) greater than 4 points to those breastfed for less than a month. They would also have had more schooling (almost a year), while their income would be higher than one-third the average income.
To achieve this, the researchers say taking into account the variables that affect the result, as the standard of living of the parents, the mother’s age at birth or having smoked during pregnancy.
“The likely mechanism to explain the beneficial effects of breast milk on intelligence is the presence of saturated long-chain amino acids, which play an essential role in brain development,” notes Dr. Bernardo Lessa Horta who led the study.
It also argues that in contrast to other studies, the Brazilian study examined breastfeeding women from all social backgrounds and not predominantly from privileged backgrounds, which facilitates the detection of breast feeding effect.
In a study published in 2014 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, British researchers had already shown that breastfeeding 3 to 12 months was protective against cardiovascular disease.