Breastfeeding has been linked to an increased IQ level and earning potential later in life according to a recent study published in The Lancet Global Health Journal. The study followed a group of almost 3,500 newborns for 30 years, monitoring the effects of breastfeeding along the way.
Breastfeeding Benefits IQ and Average Income
Researchers analysed data from a prospective study or almost 6,000 children born in Pelotas, Brazil in 1982. Information regarding breastfeeding was collected in early childhood to ensure accuracy. At 30 years old, the 3,493 remaining participants were given an IQ test, educational achievement and monthly income data was also collected at this time.
Infants who breastfed for longer (up to 12 months) showed a significant increase in adult intelligence and income compared to those who breastfed for 1 month or less. Participants who breastfed for at least one year showed an average increase of 4 IQ points and monthly income of 341 reais (about one third the average income level) compared to those who breastfed for 1 month or less.
How Breast Milk Affects IQ Levels In Adulthood
The causation of these findings are still not entirely understood, but the mechanism thought to be responsible is the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids in the breast milk. These long-chain saturated fatty acids are crucial for healthy brain development.
Short-term benefits of breastfeeding have been well-documented, providing infants with the antibodies required to develop a strong immune system. The long-term benefits are just now being explored, and the preliminary results are quite promising.
Results of this study and future studies not only help soon-to-be mothers decide whether or not to breastfeed, but they also help dictate the future of infant-formula for those who decide not to breastfeed or those who cannot. Isolating the beneficial mechanisms found in breast milk provides invaluable insight into the nutritional requirements of a newborn.
About the author
Jeffrey Sutton is the founder and CEO of GSH Gold, an immune health dietary supplement that focuses on improving Glutathione levels in the body. He regularly contributes to numerous health publications and authored the book “The Master Antioxidant - Glutathione”.