Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital have discovered a significant link between breastfeeding and higher intelligence later in life.
In a study which followed 1,312 Massachusetts mothers from the beginning of their pregnancies (in 1999) to 2013, the research team found that overall intelligence and language scores of children rose for every additional month of breastfeeding they received as babies. Not only that, but babies who were solely breastfed for the first six months averaged 3 points higher on the language test and .35% higher on the intelligence test when compared to their peers who were fed a mixed diet or did not nurse for a full six months.
Although breastfeeding did not show a measurable effect on areas like motor skills or memory, researchers have concluded that the benefits to language and intelligence are weighty enough to encourage mothers to breastfeed more and more often. Their official recommendation is that babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, then continue to breastfeed while solid foods are gradually introduced.
Another interesting area of the study investigated whether or not a mother’s fish intake (while breastfeeding) might impact her baby’s cognitive development. Although the children of women who ate fish 2+ times per week was slightly higher than their peers, the number was not great enough to be considered significant.