Breastfed children do better at school, study finds

Mar 15, 2011
Breastfed children do better at school, study finds
Researchers have shown that breastfeeding causes children to do better at school.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have shown that breastfeeding causes children to do better at school. The research conducted by Oxford University and the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Essex University, found that as little as four weeks of breastfeeding for a newborn baby has a significant effect on brain development, which persists until the child is at least 14 years old.

The researchers matched each breastfed baby with one or more babies who were not breastfed, but who were similar in all other respects. in reading, writing and mathematics for the children at ages five, seven, 11 and 14 revealed a statistically significant difference between those who had been breastfed as compared with those who had not. The research is published in a working paper ‘The Effect of Breastfeeding on Children’s Cognitive Development’, which has yet to be peer reviewed.

Breastfeeding is more likely to be practiced by mothers who are of higher social class with a higher IQ. The researchers needed to demonstrate whether the relationship between breastfeeding and was caused by the breastfeeding alone, or whether it was because mothers who breastfeed are likely to have more successful children anyway.

They used a rich dataset from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which covers 12,000 children born in the early 1990s in the Bristol area. Babies were matched on a huge range of characteristics, including: their sex, gestational age, birth weight, their mother’s age and marital status, parents’ job status and education, and their home environment. Crucially, the researchers also used the parents’ attitudes to breastfeeding as measured before birth.

Co-author Dr. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, from the Department of Economics and the Center for Time Use Research at Oxford University, said: "Comparing the test scores of groups of children matched in this way, we are effectively estimating the causal effect of breastfeeding. We find that does have a causal effect on ’s cognitive outcomes. The difference is statistically significant across English, maths and science scores, and persists into secondary school. Indeed, there is some evidence that the effect tends to grow over time."

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User comments : 6

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kelltrill
not rated yet Mar 15, 2011
So is this because of the child bonding with the mother or because of chemicals within the breast milk?
bloodyanarch
not rated yet Mar 15, 2011
I don't think anything was discovered... Was it because breastfeeding mothers spend more time with the child and homework? was it a chemical? was it because gentically they are more intelligent? who knows..
Aliensarethere
3 / 5 (2) Mar 15, 2011
"..has yet to be peer reviewed."
neoabraxas
1 / 5 (3) Mar 15, 2011
Another meta study that pushes the breastfeeding nuts' agenda. Those people are out of control. My friend's wife nearly starved his baby because she insisted her baby would only be breastfed because "it's the best way" even though she did not produce enough milk.
Alphakronik
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 15, 2011
I have three children, and the most advanced one was the one who breastfed the least (2 weeks)

El_Nose
5 / 5 (3) Mar 15, 2011
- my theory - though i know it's probably not worth much - but here goes

studing breast feeding is really just a study in how much time moms have to give to the development of their child. Namely if a mom has time to breast feed or makes time then she will probably make time to read more to her child, to take time to talk to her child, and spend quality time educating thier child at home instead of depending on schools to fully educate children. I think it shows more about the time commitment of the parent than it does about the developmental attitude of the child. Cause lets face it - if you breast fed a child and then never talked to them or nutored them, they would be as bad off as a child that was not breast fed. ~

just a theory