“Breast Feeding Improves Academic Performance, Especially for Boys”

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.

Want Smarter Kids? Consider Breast-Feeding – TIME Healthland

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.




This entry was posted in Behavioral Science, Cultural Comment, Kids, Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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