The Importance of Breast Feeding
An article on the importance of breast feeding:
Breast-feeding longer can make children smarter. That's the conclusion of a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, a journal of the American Medical Association.
In many ways, the study won't surprise proponents of breast-feeding, who have long posited a connection between nursing and cognition and now have an additional piece of research to back up their argument. Skeptics could likely stick to the view that what matters most is how smart a baby's mom is, or that social pressure to breast-feed can have its own problems for children's development by creating stressed-out parents. However, the findings are likely to add muscle to public-health advocates' push to increase breast-feeding rates, which start out around 75% but slump to an average of 25% at a baby's first birthday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The JAMA study isn't the first to study a link between nursing and intelligence, but researchers say it is more conclusive because of its size and how it has isolated variables such as the mother's IQ and the child's upbringing. Previous studies have had difficulty adjusting for other factors that might influence a child's IQ, were limited by their small size or didn't account for length of nursing, said Mandy Belfort, the JAMA study's lead author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
The latest study examined and rated each child's environment based on factors such as how many books are available, and gave each mother an IQ test. They also asked detailed questions about factors that might influence IQ, such as child care, income and parental education. They then subtracted those factors using a statistical model. Dr. Belfort said she hopes that "what we have left is the true connection" with nursing and IQ.