Babies fed longer by breast milk 'are brighter'

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The Independent Online

Breastfeeding babies for longer might increase their intelligence, according to a study published yesterday.

Breastfeeding babies for longer might increase their intelligence, according to a study published yesterday.

Researchers in Denmark and America compared the intelligence of five groups of adults, who as babies were breast-fed for different amounts of time. They found that young adults who had received breast milk for seven, eight or nine months during their infancy achieved higher scores in intelligence tests than those who were breastfed less.

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said the results "indicate that breastfeeding may have long-term positive effects on cognitive and intellectual development".

Previous research in Scandinavia has shown that mothers who breastfeed for less than three months may be preventing their children from reaching their full intellectual potential.

In the latest study, at Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, and Indiana University, in Bloomington, more than 3,250 young adults underwent two types of IQ tests and their breastfeeding history was charted.

Researchers found a positive link between the duration of breastfeeding and intelligence. In one test, mean IQs of 99.4, 101.7, 102.3, 106.0 and 104.0 were found for breastfeeding durations of less than one month, two to three months, four to six months, seven to nine months and longer than nine months.

The authors said there were two main possible explanations: breast milk may contain nutrients that stimulate brain development not found in cow's milk or formula milk; and the physical contact with the mother could help the child's cognitive development.

* Attending nursery school may reduce a toddler's chances of developing childhood leukaemia. Mixing with other youngsters could stimulate a child's immune system to tackle infection at an early age, scientists in northern California reported in the British Journal of Cancer yesterday.

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