Breastfeeding has an endless amount of benefits for both the baby and mami. For one, breast milk offers some nutrients and antibodies that bottled milk doesn't. And on the other hand, it gives new moms the chance to bond with their baby from the start, plus the added perks of burning calories and saving money.
For years, though, there's been much speculation as to how breastfeeding affects the baby's cognitive ability down the road. According to a new study, the act doesn't necessarily contribute to how smart your little one will be. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, followed the development of 8,000 Irish children who had been breastfed for six months or more. They did, in fact, find that these kids scored higher on vocabulary and problem-solving tests in school, but the difference was not significant. Christine Girard, lead researcher on the study, explains "We weren’t able to find a direct causal link between breastfeeding and children’s cognitive outcomes.” The team, instead, cited other factors such as school and other socio-economic variables which may influence the scores.
Girard notes that researchers are still looking into the "big picture" of the breastfeeding debate. Dr. Brooke Orosz weighed in saying, “The easy question — do kids who are breastfed have better outcomes? The answer is yes,” said Dr. Brooke Orosz, a professor of mathematics at Essex County College. “The difficult question — 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?”
Oddly enough, a study conducted in Brazil found that babies who were breastfed were more likely to have higher IQs, spend more time in school, and have higher paying jobs. Safe to say, then, that the jury's still out on the benefits of breastfeeding.