A well-fed, loved and nurtured baby will be happy and healthy, regardless of whether it is breastfed or bottle-fed. That said, proponents of breastfeeding will no doubt seize upon this Brazilian study to further proclaim that “breast is best”.
Following 3,500 infants from birth to adulthood in Brazil, the study found that babies who were breastfed, and of those were breastfed for longer, had higher IQs by age 30, and higher incomes.
Reported on the NHS website, an interesting point is made. Many existing studies in developed countries use a sample of mothers from medium to high income backgrounds, where breastfeeding is more common, and this has a higher possibility to skew the results, as offspring may have a natural propensity through nurture to do better academically and materially.
The Brazilian study, in contrast, was conducted primarily with low-income families.
Of course, it’s hard to draw concrete conclusions from a study such as this. Many factors will influence a child’s development, particularly over such a significant length of time. It certainly shouldn’t be used to attempt to force breastfeeding on mothers as a preferred method of feeding, or to dictate for how long breastfeeding should be continued.
That said, we already know that breastfeeding has many health and bonding advantages when both mother and baby are comfortable with it.
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