More good news for extended breastfeeding. A new study reported on in today’s New York Times is indicating that the longer babies are breast-fed, the greater the benefits to their brain development.
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Published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at Harvard Medical School enrolled 1,312 pregnant women. The researchers took note of breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months of age, and they then followed the mothers and children for seven years.
As the Times reports:
“For each additional month a baby was breast-fed, verbal ability was higher at age 3, and verbal and nonverbal I.Q. scores were higher at age 7, the study concluded. The researchers accounted for factors like the mothers’ intelligence and employment, home environment and child care.”
“One of the theories as to why breast-fed children tend to have better cognitive development is there are nutrients in breast milk that benefit the baby’s developing brain,” said Dr. Mandy Brown Belfort, a neonatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study.”
Although many studies have reported on the immunological effects of breastfeeding, this is one of the first to indicate that brain development in later years is also affected.
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