Breastfeeding and academic success

The long list of reasons to commit to breastfeeding your baby for at least six months continues to grow with a new study associating breastfeeding and academic success.

A new study to be published in the January 2011 issue of Pediatrics (online today) found that children who are mainly breastfed for the first six months or longer score considerably higher academically when tested at 10 years of age.

The study found that boys, especially, benefited from breastfeeding.

Researchers followed 2,868 children born in Australia from 1989-1992.

After adjusting for gender, family income, and how often the child was read to, academic data was collected for 1,038 eligible children at 10 years of age.

Boys were found to have improved academic scores in math, reading and spelling if they were breastfed for six months or longer. There was a small but insignificant benefit for reading in girls.

Study authors suggest that breastfeeding duration is independently associated with better learning outcomes in middle childhood, especially for boys, and all mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed for six months or longer.