After you give birth to your newborn bundle of joy, you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not you will breastfeed. Breastfeeding is a matter of personal choice, and whether or not you do so should be based on your own beliefs. However, if you’re unsure about whether or not breastfeeding will benefit you and your child, you should explore its many benefits. Breastfeeding has been associated with a number of advantages to a baby’s health. It has been shown to boost your baby’s immune system and protect him or her from various illnesses. It has also been associated with the prevention of allergies by sparing them from drinking processed milk with many chemicals. Additionally, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the likelihood of obesity, prevent SIDS, and even reduce your own stress level post partum. A recent study even confirms the belief that, by breastfeeding your baby, you are increasing his or her IQ later in life.

A higher IQ due to breastfeeding might seem surprising at first. However, research has confirmed it, and it could be due to a number of factors. One theory is that the fatty acids in a mother’s breast milk contribute to brain development and cognition. Other hypotheses claim that the higher IQ is based on the bond that forms between the mother and her baby during breastfeeding, which develops another area of the brain essential to intelligence. Whatever the reason, the results of the study showed that children at age 6.5 who were breastfed were more intelligent and scored higher on IQ tests than those who were not breastfed. Intelligence is an essential element of success in the modern world, so if you are weighing the benefits of breastfeeding, this should be a major consideration.

By breastfeeding your baby, you will in fact increase his or her intelligence, even later in life. In fact, based on the study, the longer you breastfeed your baby, the more intelligent he or she will be. Of course, this concept should be weighed against the social and developmental risks of breastfeeding too late, but it does further support the theory that breastfeeding is directly related to intelligence. If you’re interested in these benefits but concerned about some of the disadvantages of breastfeeding, such as breast pain and inconvenience, you should speak with your health care provider about the best possible alternatives.

Source: Michael S Kramer et al: Breastfeeding and Child Cognitive Development. Archives of General Psychology Volume 65 Issue 5 pp. 578-584 May 2008

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