May 7 at 6:06pm by Aileen
Michael Kramer, a professor of pediatrics at McGill University reported this week that breastfeeding raises children’s IQ and improves their academic performance later in childhood.
Their study evaluated children in 31 Belarusian hospitals and clinics. Half of the women were directly encouraged to breastfeed exclusively, the other half did things the ‘normal’ way (for Belorussia). Six and a half years later the children’s IQs were tested and their teachers submitted academic performance ratings. Scores on both were significantly higher for the children of women encouraged to breastfeed, though there is no indication that the researchers confirmed how many of those mothers actually did breastfeed or for how long.
“Our study provides the strongest evidence to date that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding makes kids smarter,” Kramer said.
While it is generally accepted these days that it is far better for a baby to be breastfed than raised on infant formula or cow’s milk – for a number of excellent reasons including immunities and strengthened immune systems – the reporting of this particular study makes a fairly standard assertion that association of factors (correlation) must equate to cause. Another study reported this week holds that early consumption of cow’s milk increases risk of Type-1 diabetes.
Still, given the infant deaths attributed to the marketing and distribution of soy-based infant formula to mothers in third world countries (where the water is nasty), any encouragement of the idea that human babies should drink human milk is welcomed. Here in the first world, virtually all women of childbearing age carry burdens of chemicals and heavy metals that are measurable in their breast milk, but generally at a lower level than the water in third world countries contains.
If women – and their doctors – can be persuaded that breastfeeding makes children healthier and smarter, only good can come of it. Someday we might even find ourselves living in a modern first world society that actually views mothers breastfeeding babies as normal and endearing rather than a blatant abuse of sexual organs! That would be a refreshing development.