Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 31st 2013 Contents B36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Children who were breastfed for more of their
infancy scored higher on language and intelligence
tests at three and seven years old, in a new study.
Researchers found that for each extra month women
reported breastfeeding, their children performed
slightly better on those exams---though not on tests
of motor skills and memory.
"Given the size of the benefit, I think this should
be helpful for women who are trying to make decisions
about how long to breastfeed...because there are many
factors that go into that decision," said Dr Mandy
Belfort, who led the study at Boston Children s Hos-
"You have to weigh that against the time that it
takes, maybe the time that it takes away from work
and your other family duties."
She said the findings support recommendations
from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other
groups for exclusive breastfeeding up to six months
of age, followed by a mix of breastfeeding and solid
For their study, Belfort
and her colleagues tracked
women who were recruited
while pregnant in 1999 to
2002 and their babies.
Mothers reported if they
had ever breastfed, and if
so how old their child was
when they stopped. The
researchers then gave both
women and their children
On language tests given
at age three, children in the
study scored an average of
103.7. Once the women s
intelligence and other fam-
ily factors including income
were taken into account,
the researchers found that
each extra month of breastfeeding was tied to a 0.21-
point improvement on the exam.
Children who were fed only breast milk for six
months scored an average of three points higher on
the language test than those who were never breastfed,
Belfort and her colleagues write in JAMA Pediatrics.
For intelligence tests that included reading and
writing given at age seven, average scores were 112.5
and each extra month of breastfeeding was linked to
a 0.35-point improvement.
Those tests take 10 to 20 minutes to complete, and
100 is considered an average score across all children.
Belfort said a parent or teacher probably wouldn t
notice a difference of a few points on a child s intel-
"I think the importance is more on the level of the
whole population or society," she told Reuters Health.
If every child scored a few points higher, for example,
there would be fewer kids on the very low end of the
spectrum needing extra help, Belfort said.
Breastfeeding has been tied to a lower risk of eczema
and ear and stomach infections among young chil-
Past studies have also found a link to kids intel-
ligence, but those haven t accounted for other dif-
ferences between mothers who breastfeed and those
who don t.
Researchers said the new report goes a step further
by accounting for women s own intelligence and other
aspects of the children s home environments.
"The difficulties with any study are, what were the
intellectual capacities of the parents, and did this
make a difference?" said Dr Ruth Lawrence, a breast-
feeding researcher from the University of Rochester
Medical Center in New York.
"They showed very clearly that when you controlled for
all those parameters, breastfeeding still was associated with
higher intellectual development."
Lawrence, who wasn t involved in the new study, said
certain components of breast milk---including amino acids,
omega-3 fatty acids and cholesterol---may all be important
for the developing brain. (Reuters)
Breastfeeding tied to
The Duchess of Cambridge's apparent decision to try to breastfeed
Prince George has been boosted by evidence showing it can raise a
"The difficulties with
any study are, what
were the intellectual
capacities of the
parents, and did this
make a difference?
They showed very
clearly that when
you controlled for all
was associated with
---Dr Ruth Lawrence,
University of Rochester
Medical Center in New
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