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No Long-Term Cognitive Benefits Found In Breastfed Babies, Say Studies

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(Pixabay/carlosalbertony)

There are plenty of benefits to breastfeeding your child. Building immunity to various diseases, for example. But now studies say that the cognitive benefits to breastfeeding a child are simply short-term, which might help put some formula-feeding moms at ease.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, breastfeeding your baby does not seriously improve long-term cognitive behavior or development. The study focused on 7,478 babies and moms in Ireland. As a control, all the babies were born full-term and were evaluated at 9 months, 3 years, and 5 years.

In order to evaluate the children’s cognitive progress, parents filled out questionnaires about their children’s problem-solving skills as well as their vocabulary. At age 5, the same questions were posed to the children’s teachers as well.

The results were surprising. By age 3, kids who were breastfed for at least six months had better problem-solving skills and lower rates of hyperactivity. But these differences between breastfed and formula-fed children were practically gone by the time they turned five.

So why is it that folks tend to believe there are that many differences between breastfed and formula-fed babies? According to Dr. Brooke Orosz, adviser to the organization Fed is Best and a professor of mathematics at Essex County College, it may boil down to socio-economics.

“The easy question — do kids who are breastfed have better outcomes? The answer is yes. The difficult question is: is it breast milk that improves their brain or is it that growing up with parents who are better educated and have better incomes makes a difference?”

While Orosz was not involved in the study, she does mention that the study considered education level and income as a control.

So there you have it, moms. Doing what’s best for your child might mean breastfeeding, formula feeding, or both. The most important thing is to make sure your child is fed and happy and nurtured throughout their young life.

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