Breastfeeding Increases I.Q. But You Still Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Formula Feeding
Breastfeeding has long been linked to a host of benefits, including a higher I.Q., but those findings are often questioned once things like socioeconomic status are taken into consideration. Now, according to Raw Story, a study out of Brazil is proving once and for all that breastfeeding does, in fact, affect a baby’s intelligence, and it does so well into adulthood.
The study was launched in 1982 in Pelotas, Brazil, with 5,914 babies enrolled. 30 years later, researchers tracked down 3,493 of those participants and found that among those who were breastfeed for 12 months or longer, there was a difference in I.Q. of about 3.7 points when compared to participants who were only breastfed for one month. Those with a higher I.Q. also had 0.9 more years of education and earned roughly $100 more per month.
Similar studies in the United States have yielded similar results about I.Q., but as researchers point out, those studies often don’t account for disparities in income and education. The study in Brazil is different because breastfeeding is the norm, so researchers say the sample was more evenly distributed among social classes. Basically, regardless of where they came from, babies who were breastfed for at least a year had a slightly higher I.Q. and that correlated positively with education level and future earnings.
Sanctimonious breastfeeders love to point to studies like this to shame formula feeding moms, and defensive formula feeders love to point to holes in the research, but really all that does is stoke the fires of a mommy war that needn’t exist in the first place.
Whether breastfeeding is better on paper or not, those of us who chose formula chose it for a reason. We should stand behind our choices and stop trying to justify our decision as though it is somehow shameful. I hated breastfeeding. It exacerbated my Postpartum Depression, made me anxious and resentful of my children, and it hurt like hell. I was lucky enough to live in a place where I had the luxury of choice, so I made the choice to stop and not once have I regretted it.
If discovering more about the benefits of breastfeeding leads to more moms trying to breastfeed or to increased access to resources and support for moms who are breastfeeding, that’s fantastic. Support for one lifestyle shouldn’t have to come at the expense of support for another. If anything, a three-point increase in I.Q. should make everyone aware that these decisions are just not that big of a deal. It doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby, so long as the choice is yours and babies are getting fed.