Baby-Feeding Smarts

Facts of Life

A new study from the journal Pediatrics finds that infants breast-fed for six months or longer, especially boys, do better in school at age 10.

“Breast-feeding should be promoted for both boys and girls for its positive benefits,” said Wendy Oddy, a researcher at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia.

After adjusting for other factors, such as gender, family income, mother’s educational level and family support of learning, Oddy and other researchers estimated the link between breast-feeding and educational performance.

Test scores for children who were breast-fed were higher than for those children who weren’t, significantly so in the case of boys.

Oddy said, “A number of studies found that boys are more reliant than girls on maternal attention and encouragement for the acquisition of cognitive and language skills. If breast-feeding facilitates mother-child interactions, then we would expect the positive effects of this bond to be greater in males compared with females, as we observed.”