Extended Breastfeeding Gives Kids Higher IQs, Says Study That Manages To Make Even Breastfeeding Moms Look Like Slackers

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kittens nursingIf you managed to get through exclusive breastfeeding hell for the first six months, you may feel as though you’ve done enough to bypass a slew of mommy stigma. You checked that terrain off your list (and most likely tossed that stupid expensive pump), and gladly moved on, still able to boast enough that “yes, I breastfed.” But new research suggests that — when faced with extended breastfeeders — we’re all slacking formula feeders.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics, “breastfeeding longer can make children smarter.” Researchers at Boston Children’s hospital tracked 1,312 moms and babies over 11 years, keeping tabs on how many of those children were still on the boob by their first birthday. The kids’ intelligence was reportedly tested at ages three and seven. What they found is more fodder for the Magical Milk Cure-All chorus:

Children who were still nursing after a year had higher receptive language scores at age 3, which means they understood what was being said to them better than their formula-fed peers. At age 7, the breast-fed children scored higher on verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests.

In 3 year olds, every month of breast-feeding raised cognition scores by an average of .21 point. Each month of breast-feeding was associated with a .35 more verbal IQ point and a .29 more nonverbal point in the 7 year olds. A full year of nursing would boost a child’s IQ by about 4 points over a child who didn’t nurse, said Dr. Belfort, a significant bump considering that IQs average around 100. That is for children getting some breast milk in their diets; those consuming only breast milk before starting to eat solid foods around six months of age saw even greater advantages.

If you hadn’t stopped breastfeeding, your baby could have a FOUR POINT HIGHER IQ, you silly selfish mommy who probably had to get back to work to afford the home that you were doing all that breastfeeding in. While it is noted that breastfeeding has “a lot to do with class and wealth” (no shiz. Try staying devoted to breastfeeding when you have a crap maternity leave and no monies), the study’s lead author, Mandy Belfort, implies that we should absolutely care about a few IQ points here and there:

“For an individual person, it would be hard to tell a two or three point difference in IQ, but it would matter a lot for society,” said Dr. Belfort. “If we can shift the IQ up, we would have to invest less resources at the low end.” Meaning that with improved IQ scores across the board, less funding would have to be spent on remedial education programs.

You hear that? Commit to extended breastfeeding those babes and then we won’t have to worry about spending money on all those “crack babies” who require so much remedial attention. So dial up your job and say that you can’t come back yet because you need to breastfeed your baby until his first birthday so that he doesn’t drain any sort of funding for not being smart. Let me know how that goes.

(photo:  soulteachr1963)