Thursday, May 8, 2008

Breastfeeding Boosts IQ

The big story this week about breastfeeding that a major study has confirmed that breastfed babies have higher IQs and that duration and intensity of breastfeeding have a cumulative positive effect. I'm happy for the researchers and that it got lots of press, but it's not exactly breaking news, folks.

The story that seems to be missed in all this is how mothers in the study were supported and the dramatic difference it made in breastfeeding rates. By using the Baby-Friendly Initiative model combining appropriate hospital policies, education and support, there was a dramatic difference in breastfeeding rates at every stage. Contrary to what some the news reports suggest, the BFI program is about supporting mothers and encouraging them to listen to their baby's cues as opposed to training them in some magic breastfeeding tricks.

It's unfortunate that this part of it has not gotten the attention that it deserves - it's not really helpful to be debating whether 5 IQ points matters in the long-run or not. Breastfeeding is the way babies were meant to be fed and this is good proof that their mothers can provide that for them when given a reasonable support system.

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