That headline will come as great news to college sophomores.
Until they read the text, and find it applies only to the breast-feeding of babies.
Evidence for the long-term benefits of breast-feeding — well beyond infancy — continue to grow. In the latest analysis of the academic performance of children who were breast- or bottle-fed, researchers found that breast-fed babies scored higher on tests of math, reading and writing skills at 10 years old, compared with those who were bottle-fed as babies.
I do have a caveat here. Perhaps it is not the breast feeding itself; perhaps those mothers who breast-feed their babies are also more attentive to them, and better teachers.
Breast-feeding may not be a cause of better academic performance; both may be the result of better mothering.
That said, it is known that mother’s milk has far more nutrients than formula, and is rich in brain-enhancing ingredients, which promote cognitive development.
And yet, again, breast-feeding is time consuming and keeping it up is a challenge.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of newborns were breast-fed in their first month or so of life in 2007, while only 33% were being exclusively breast-fed at three months; by six months, only 13% were predominantly receiving breast milk. …
So who keeps it up?
Oddy notes that in order to breast-feed exclusively for the recommended six months, and for children to receive the full benefits of being breast-fed, mothers need support from health-care systems that teach and encourage breast-feeding, as well as assistance from family, friends and employers to make breast-feeding easier.
And if the mother has all that support, wouldn’t that also enhance later academic performance?
This is not to argue the opposite. The benefits of breast-feeding are many and manifest. But this link strikes me as just a tad tenuous: interesting, maybe even true, worth studying, but not convincingly demonstrated.