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Health & Baby

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Breastfed Kids May Get Higher Test Scores

Study Suggests Benefits of Breastfeeding Last Into the School Years, Particularly for Boys

Tracking the Impact of Breastfeeding continued...

Her group measured standardized math, reading, writing, and spelling scores of the children in the study, who were 10 years old at the time.

When looking at boys and girls independently, the researchers found that predominant breastfeeding for 6 months or more was significantly associated with increased scores in math, reading, writing, and spelling for boys, but there was no effect found on test scores for girls for any subject.

“Maybe humans really do need all the fatty acids, nutrients, bioactive factors that they get from human milk,” Oddy says. “If you’re trying to help kids do the best that they can, in school and in life, why wouldn’t you breastfeed?”

Research Mixed

But other studies looking at the possible long-term advantages of breastfeeding on intelligence and academic achievement have found little or no association after they corrected for other factors that also contribute to a child’s intelligence, like mom’s IQ and education, family income, and how often children are stimulated at home through practices like reading books together.

According to Miao Jiang, PhD, a maternal and child health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a key problem with the Australian study is that when researchers asked parents for permission to link breastfeeding records to the child’s testing scores, many families opted out. The 980 who stayed in were generally from two-parent, higher-income families and were more likely to have older moms who breastfed longer than moms who didn’t participate in the study.

“Therefore, the higher academic achievement found in this sample may quite likely be due to the advantaged socio-economic status, not breastfeeding,” Jiang says.

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