What do breastfeeding, IQ range, education, and income all have to do with each other?
In Pelotas, Brazil, a recent study reveals the long-term benefits of breastfeeding. While the short term health and nutrition benefits have been widely acknowledged, this study has discovered new and exciting benefits to breastfeeding.
Here are the two key findings:
1. Duration and predominance of breastfeeding are positively associated with IQ, educational attainment, and income.
2. There is a dose-response association with breastfeeding duration for IQ and educational attainment.
The study was implemented with a population-based birth cohort from 1982. Information about breastfeeding patterns was recorded in early childhood. 30 years later, information related to IQ, levels of education, and income was collected.
Participants who were breastfed for at least 12 months had higher IQ scores, more years of education, and even higher monthly incomes compared to those participants who were breastfed for less than one month.
These results could have important implications for developing countries and the reduction of poverty. It is critical that mothers are supported in breastfeeding. It is recognized that there is not a direct causal link. However, the long-term results from this study could imply that children who are breastfed are more likely to achieve the education that will help them provide for their families. This offers them the opportunity to draw their communities out of poverty.
While breastfeeding is not the only factor related to potential education attainment and income, this study demonstrates that it is an important one. Further evaluation is needed to understand how programs can disseminate information about the long-term benefits of breastfeeding and support parents in this decision.
– Iliana Lang
Sources: The Lancet