One More Reason to Breast-feed

By Lisa Marshall

What if you could help your child excel in school before she’s even said her first word? In the largest study of its kind, researchers at Montreal’s McGill University followed 14,000 children over a six-year period to see if prolonged (at least three months) and exclusive (no other food or liquids) breast-feeding affected cognitive development. When tested at age 6, the children in the breast-feeding group had IQ scores three to almost eight points higher and scored better in reading and writing. The likely cause: IQ-boosting fatty acids in breast milk, brain changes that occur during mother-baby bonding, or a combination of both. Michael Kramer, MD, one of the study authors, says that many of the benefits of breast-feeding can be achieved by nursing exclusively for three months and offering breast milk along with some food until “at least six months, preferably to 12 months and beyond.”