Scientists have been studying this question for over 70 years, but they still don’t know the answer. They do know it makes them healthier, and makes their mothers healthier as well, since it protects against breast cancer.

Many of the studies that have found a link between breastfeeding and increased child intelligence have failed to consider other factors, particularly maternal intelligence. Research shows that when considered in isolation, breastfeeding DOES appear to have a beneficial effect on a child?s intelligence. However, once other factors were considered, including maternal intelligence, home environment and socio-economic status, breastfeeding doesn’t make much difference in children’s intelligence scores. Studies of siblings, one of whom had been breastfed and another who had not, support this finding.

Mothers who breastfeed are likely to be older, to have more education and to provide a more stimulating home environment. They are less likely to be poor or to smoke.

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