Not only have studies shown that breastfed babies tend to be physically healthier than those raised on cow's milk or formula, a new study published in December issue of the journal Pediatrics claims it could actually help them in academics later in life.
The initial aim of the 10 year study was to examine the relationship between duration of breastfeeding and educational outcomes. Australian researchers followed more than 2,800 babies born between 1989 and 1992. The findings showed that young boys who were predominately breastfed for six months or longer had significantly higher scores on standardized tests for reading, math and spelling at age 10, compared to boys breastfed for shorter periods. The benefits were not as significant among female students.
The researchers noted that the nutrition found in mother's milk may help boost brain power. They also stated that it adds to growing evidence that breastfeeding does have beneficial effects on a baby's development.
Critics of the study, however, call its conclusions misleading and point out that it suffers from many of the same problems that have long plagued this area of research. Namely, that moms who breastfeed are typically older, have higher IQs, are wealthier, and are more educated than moms who don’t breastfeed. That makes it difficult for researchers to determine whether breastfed kids do better on intelligence tests because they were breastfed or because they have greater socioeconomic advantages.
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Al Sheikh Zayed