A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics suggests that breastfeeding provides children with little to no long-term cognitive or behavioral impact. In short, breastfeeding likely does not make a child smarter than bottle-feeding does. Other health benefits from breastfeeding have been proven — including helping newborns fight off infections — but the longer term benefits of breastfeeding are called into question by the study. Researchers found that children who were breastfed for at least six months exhibit fewer cases of hyperactivity and better problem-solving at age three. But by age 5, those differences all but disappeared.
Dr. Brooke Orosz, a professor of mathematics at Essex County College said the study “Fits well in the body of literature that long-term benefits of breastfeeding look a whole lot smaller or non-existent if you properly control for your confounding variables.” Orosz was not involved in conducting the study.
Data show that, by-and-large, children who are breastfed tend to have better outcomes, but the study shows that those outcomes may not be the result of the child having been fed breast milk. Rather, those outcomes could be linked to the fact that children who are breastfed also may have more engaged or wealthy parents.
The study followed 7,478 Irish children beginning at 9 months old. Researchers evaluated the children at three years and again at five years of age. Parents were asked to fill out questionnaires on the children’s vocabularies when they were 3 years old, and by age 5 the children’s parents and teachers fill out surveys.
Read the full story at CNN.