Hey guess what? Science is here to tell you something you've already been told a hundred bajillion times: Breastfed babies are smarter than formula-fed babies. Yet another study has gone and proven that babies who drank from the font of mama bountiful during their first months of life scored higher on intelligence tests later on. How much higher? For every month the babies were breastfed, they got a 0.3 point advantage by age 3, and a 0.5 point advantage by age 7.
The study included 1,300 babies and controlled for all other factors, like the parents' intelligence and income. So great. Is this just another study designed to make moms who can't breastfeed feel guilty? That was my first thought -- what about all the women I know who tried, but just couldn't produce enough milk? But forget the guilt trip for a minute. Here's who I think could really use this study.
I think it could be most helpful to new moms who want to breastfeed -- even after they return to work. The study's lead author, Dr. Mandy Belfort, says, "I can understand as well as anyone the challenges of continuing to breastfeed once a mom goes back to work. I think our findings definitely support an investment in helping moms breastfeed their babies." By the way, Dr. Belfort is a mother of three kids.
So this isn't about guilting moms who can't or won't breastfeed. This is about giving moms who can and want to breastfeed more support. If you want to keep breastfeeding after you return to work, you've got one more study in your corner supporting your decision -- and also nudging companies to do the right thing.
By now, I think just about every mid-sized to large company with offices provides some sort of accommodation for nursing moms. And that's a great victory. But that's not where we all work. What about moms who wait tables or work in fast food? Moms who clean those offices? Those are the moms who need the most support. They're the ones who need more affordable breast pumps and more understanding employers. I don't know how much this study will help those women. I guess it all depends on who is really listening.
Do you think these studies linking breastfeeding to intelligence help moms?
Image via Daniel Lobo/Flickr
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