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Breast-fed Babies Become Smarter and Better Paid Adults, Study Shows


The first study in history to show that breastfeeding as a baby increases intelligence and earning power in adult life was recently published in The Lancet Global Health. All new or expecting mothers must read this...

Since 1982, the pioneering study followed 3,500 people in Brazil for 30 years after birth, and found that those who were breastfed for longer as infants had higher IQs and better paid jobs as 30 year-olds.

It found that people who were breastfed for a year or longer had on average 4 points of IQ more than those who were breastfed for less than 1 month.

They also remained in education for 9 months longer on average, and earn around 20 per cent more than the national wage average. If this were in Britain, it would equate to an extra £440 of salary each month. If one had a 40 year career, this would amount to extra earnings of over £200,000.

The head author behind the study, Dr Bernardo Lessa Horta of the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, explained the significance of the findings and the groundbreaking nature of his study:

“The effect of breastfeeding on brain development and child intelligence is well established, but whether these effects persist into adulthood is less clear.”

“Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability.”

“What is unique about this study is the fact that, in the population we studied, breastfeeding was not more common among highly educated, high-income women, but was evenly distributed by social class.”

“Previous studies from developed countries have been criticized for failing to disentangle the effect of breastfeeding from that of socioeconomic advantage, but our work addresses this issue for the first time.”

The contrast between breastfed and bottle-fed children remained despite taking into account social and biological factors such as family income, the mother’s health, the baby’s weight, and circumstances of delivery.

The study found that even a short duration of breastfeeding is beneficial. Children who were breastfed for three-to-six months were found to be nearly two IQ points higher than those bottle-fed after their first month.

The scientists concluded that breast milk is crucial to human brain development because it contains long-chain saturated fatty acids.

So Mums, unless there is a medical reason that prevents you from doing so, you should breastfeed your babies for at least a year after they are born to start them off on the right track to success in life.


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