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Here's something every parent should know.

Question: What could significantly improve a child's intelligence?

Answer: Breastfeeding.

Quite a lot of research has been published in recent years looking at links between breastfeeding and a child’s intelligence.

In 2021, at least 3 different studies have found that breastfed children scored higher in intelligence quotient (IQ) or neurocognitive tests.

A new review study published in September 2021 confirms that breastfeeding leads to minor but statistically significant increases in intelligence tests.


Study No. 1:

A study published in January 2021 in BMC Pregnancy Childbirth by Castro A et al. found:

Breastfeeding (exclusive and mixed) was positively associated with IQ in mid-childhood. This was a large cohort study controlled for multiple confounders.

What that means is that those children who were exclusively and non-exclusively breastfed had a slightly higher IQ at age 8 years old. The study found:

  • 2.1 higher IQ points at age 8 for children exclusively breastfed.
  • 1.5 higher IQ points at age 8 for children not exclusively breastfed (mixed feeding - breastfed and formula-fed).


Study No. 2:

In April 2021, a study by Lopez D et al., published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health found that children who were breastfed for any amount of time scored higher on neurocognitive tests.


Study No. 3:

In September 2021, a new meta-analysis review study published in Breastfeeding Medicine by Liangying Hou et al., confirms that breastfeeding leads to minor but statistically significant increases in intelligence tests.

The objective of the study was to evaluate the impact of duration of breastfeeding on the intelligence of children.

The study found that as a whole, children who were breastfed scored 1.04 fold higher in intelligence tests compared to children who were never breastfed.

The meta-analysis looked at 15 studies which included 12,316 children.

  • Breastfeeding for 6 MONTHS OR LESS resulted in children scoring 1.04-fold higher in intelligence tests.

  • Breastfeeding for MORE THAN 6 MONTHS resulted in children scoring 1.06-fold higher in intelligence tests.

To quote from the abstract: "Breastfeeding could significantly improve the intelligence of children, with a duration of >6 months showing a slight but significantly higher intelligence score than for ≤6 months."


My take-home message:

If we want to improve the intelligence of the next generation...

  • Parents need to be supported by healthcare professionals who are up to date with the latest research on breastfeeding (for example, they have taken our full-length course!)
  • We need much more funding for human milk research.
  • We need much more funding for specialised lactation professionals.
  • And we need much more dedicated one-to-one support so that all parents can reach their breastfeeding goals.

What do you think? What else do we need?

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Science references

Amiel Castro, R., Glover, V., Ehlert, U. et al. Breastfeeding, prenatal depression and children’s IQ and behaviour: a test of a moderation model. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 21, 62 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-03520-8

Daniel A. Lopez, John J. Foxe, Yunjiao Mao, Wesley K. Thompson, Hayley J. Martin, Edward G. Freedman. Breastfeeding Duration Is Associated With Domain-Specific Improvements in Cognitive Performance in 9–10-Year-Old Children. Frontiers in Public Health, 2021; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.657422

Liangying Hou, Xiuxia Li, Peijing Yan, Yanfei Li, Yiting Wu, Qingxia Yang, Xiue Shi, Long Ge, and Kehu Yang. Breastfeeding Medicine.Sep 2021.687-696.http://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2020.0364


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Want to be up to date with the latest research? Take one of our free or paid courses!

Breast Milk and the Infant Microbiome course

(Available on this link for half-price) >>> https://microbirth.teachable.com/p/breastmilk12/


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Want a free course?

Take our FREE mini-course on the infant microbiome.

Immediate access and go-at-your-own pace.

Learn from 6 professors about why vaginal birth and breast milk are so critical to a child's long-term health.

Link to enroll: >>> https://microbirth.teachable.com/p/taster/

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