A recent study on how longer breastfeeding of infants influences their intelligence and success at the age 30 caused controversial feedback. Those who support breastfeeding and had a positive experience of their own certainly support the whole idea. But there are also those who had a negative experience of breastfeeding because of medical, social or personal issues - and they are even more active in discussing the results of the research.
Let's start with some facts: the study was conducted in Brazil and traced nearly 3,500 babies from all walks of life. At 30 years of age the scientists studied their IQ (using the 3rd version of Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), educational attainment, and income. And the results are catchy: "Breastfeeding is associated with improved performance in intelligence tests 30 years later, and might have an important effect in real life, by increasing educational attainment and income in adulthood".
Some would stop here. But in fact, the authors of the research note that there are many different factors other than breastfeeding that could have an impact on intelligence and success. That might be the level of education of their parents, their social well-being, the onset behavioural patterns, and even more.
The short-term benefits of breastfeeding are approved: mother's milk contains all the necessary vitamins and nutrients for the baby in the first six months of life along with disease-fighting substances and the long-chain saturated fatty acids that are integral to brain development. It is also believed that breastfeeding cuts down the possible development of allergies and food intolerance. Thus the longer you can feed your baby with breast milk - the healthier he or she will be.
Now let's take a look at the IQ measurement method. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is commonly used to score IQ rate alongside with the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. Such tests quiz people in reading comprehension, limits, series and mathematical knowledge, but they don't test for subjects that include mechanics, social skills or creativity. And that's just as important. Thus the value of the IQ testing is being questioned for decades now.
And again, let's return to other factors that can influence the individual's intelligence and success. It might be interesting to note that in traditional African tribes most women breastfeed their kids for at least 1 year and for 2-3 years in average. Many of them continue doing that up to 4 years. Some even longer but that's not the issue for us now.
Just to clarify my position by the end: I support breastfeeding for at least the first six months of the baby's life. But the reason I'm on this side is my personal belief that nature was smart enough to give humans the necessary arsenal to survive. And there is definitely something above the nutritional need - the magic that happens between a mother and her child while breastfeeding. But the latter can, surely, happen through the bottle with baby formula as well. #Society