Breast-Feeding Linked to Academic Achievement, Study Finds
Children who are mainly breast-fed for six months or longer score considerably higher academically when tested at the age of 10, according to a study published today in Pediatrics.
Researchers also discovered gender differences in the effect breast-feeding has on educational outcomes, noting that boys are particularly responsive -- in math, spelling, reading and writing -- when breast-fed for a longer period of time.
Breast is widely considered best for both Mom and baby, and the World Health Organization recommends babies receive breast milk only for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Research has shown breast-feeding can help protect infants from bacterial and viral infection, and that women who breast-feed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers, according to the National Women's Health Information Center.
But, in the last few years, studies such as this one have also started looking at the benefits of breast-feeding for cognitive ability, intelligence and academic achievement, the authors write.
"Our study adds to growing evidence that breast-feeding for at least six months has beneficial effects on optimal child development," they conclude. "Mothers should be encouraged to breast-feed for six months and beyond."
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