American Morning

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December 20th, 2010
10:37 AM ET

Breast-fed babies get better grades, new study shows

Breast feeding your baby during the first six months can actually help make your child smarter later in life, evidence from a new study suggests this morning.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains the study, published in the journal “Pediatrics” this morning on American Morning.

Wondering if supplementing breast feeding with formula feedings gives similar results? Cohen answers.

Filed under: American Morning • Health • Parenting
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Linda

    No amount of breast milk is going to make up for low intellect. I am so sick of this rubbish! Smart children come about as the result of smart parents and good education. It's a combination of genetics and education. Very rarely will you get smart children from parents of low intellect. All this rubbish about bottle-v-breast is just that – rubbish!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  2. marty

    Breastfeeding worked well for one of my twins but not for the other. They ended up with the same grade-point average to the hundredth point. Informally, it didn't seem to be an issue for us.

    December 20, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  3. Pat

    I totally agree with Kim. I did not breast feed at all and my children have very high IQ's and are extremely health (never ill) compared to the most children. These experts are control frantics and want to tie women down to child care. This limits most women from working outside the home. If breast feeding was so fantistic, why isn't the goverment and health care paying women to stay home to breast feed? And I mean a decent wage, not some token just to shut us up. If you want to keep women in the house, caring for children then put your money where you mouth is. Pay up! Sick of these lying control freaks.

    December 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  4. @Kim

    Kim, sounds to me like you are just in denial.

    December 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  5. Richard

    Kim – You didn't read the article correctly – it did not say if you did not breast feed your kids that they would be stupid, it said that breastfed babies are smarter than they would have been compared to if they were not breastfed. Look at it this way – Every child has a genetic predisposition to have an IQ in a preset range. The environment determines whether or not the child reaches the high or low end of this range. A child with an IQ of 100 who was not breastfed may have had an IQ of 110 if he/she was breastfed. A child with an IQ of 130 who was not breastfed may have otherwise had an IQ of 145 if he was breastfed. My brother (who was breastfed) had an IQ of 155, I was not breastfed and my IQ tests at 135. This is the cause and effect example that needs to be understood. Your comment reminds me of comments I hear from mothers who smoked and drank during pregnancy who use the fact that they have "average" children which proves smoking and drinking are not harmful. But in fact, the parents were anything but average, being successful lawyers, doctors, business leaders – etc. IQ is only one example of healthy brain function – what about the parts of the brain that control talents in music or art. All of these could be compromised. I understand the natural tendency to try to alleviate guilt with studies such as this. It is certainly a conflict of natural instinct to feel that one's behavior may have taken away from a child's potential. However, we as a society must do whatever possible to maximize the potential of our offspring – the consequences or mediocrity are severe when carried out over 50-100 years. Even before birth, the human brain grows at over 250,000 cells per second beginning in the 4th week of pregnancy. Environmental exposure decisions during this critical growth period can steer a child either closer or farther away from his/her maximum potential. This is a scary thought considering all the toxic insults children must endure today (from pesticides to petroleum laden perfumes) that were not around 50 years ago . Maybe it's not coincidence that our parents and grandparents appear to be more intelligent and exhibit more talent and personality traits than children of today – but hey, maybe it's just coincidence – or maybe not.

    December 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  6. Ed

    Kim – not trying to start trouble, but what makes you think that your experience with your 3 boys holds more weight than a scientific study?

    I knew a woman who smoked like a chiminey through 3 pregnacies and had 3 perfectly healthy babies. Am I supposed to consider that all the medical evidence contrary to that is "bull hockey"?

    I'm glad to hear your kids are healthy and intelligent – and I agree it probably has more to do with the environment you give your boys rather than how long you breast fed them; but your experience doesn't man that someone else gets the same "bang for your buck"...

    or as we say a lot on the computer programming business – "your mileage may vary".

    December 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Sickofpoorresearchandreporting

    I am so sick of these crappy studies that show marginal differences between groups and appear to be highly flawed. In the report they mention that some of the children were on formula and breast milk during the study – way to completely confound your results. And no significant results for girls – only for boys? Wow. So basically the findings were that baby boys who may or may not have been on a breast milk only diet showed somewhat improved scores 10 years later. The title of this article suggests something quite different – why does the media refuse to report research findings in an accurate way?

    Should you breastfeed your children if it's feasible? Yes. Are you somehow harming your child if you don't? Unlikely. Breastfeeding your child will not turn them into a genius. There have been countless studies that find *no difference* between breastfed and non-breasfed children. These studies do not get published or make the news because they fail to find significant results. Frustrating.

    December 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  8. Adam

    I agree. My wife could not breast feed and pumping was such a bear...She also only lasted a few weeks....There have been such improvements with formulas that I think breastfeeding is way overrated...Are son also seemed to develop teeth sooner then other children who were breastfed. He is 4 now and doing fine....I think that the "breast feeding Nazis" need to chill a bit and let people make their own decisions. To each their own I say.

    December 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  9. Kim

    I'm sorry. I'm tired of hearing this crap. Breast fed babies are smarter?? Breast fed babies are healthier?? I just don't agree.

    I have three boys who were breastfed for approximately three weeks. That was the limit of how much sleep I could lose. According to breastfeeding advocates this isn't long enough and I am a horrible mom because I didn't continue. Bull hockey.

    My three boys are very smart. IQ's are well in the 130's. Conversations with them sometimes have my head spinning because I can't understand what the heck they are saying. Saying simple things to them is hard because they think so differently they can't understand it if it is too simple. They have to have more information to compute.

    My children are also very healthy. Perfect attendance at school is not a fluke here in my house. It is the norm. My friends who breastfed their kids for longer times have kids who are sicker and who cried longer as babies and didn't sleep through the night until much later than mine did. My boys were all sleeping through the night by three weeks of age and never stopped.

    So, yes, I am tired of hearing this nonsense. I totally disagree with the studies and will continue to do so because I have the best examples of how inaccurate it is.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:51 am |