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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Breast-fed kids are not only healthy but also smart

According to the world's largest study on lactation and intelligence, that followed 17,046 children for six and a half years from birth, children whose mothers exclusively breastfed them during the first year of life had consistently higher IQ and an improved cognitive development. Scientists from McGill University and the Montreal Children's Hospital conducted a randomized trial involving patients from 31 maternity hospitals in Belarus.

At age six and a half the children in the breastfeeding group scored an average of 7.5 points higher on tests measuring verbal intelligence, 2.9 points higher on tests measuring non-verbal intelligence and 5.9 points higher on tests measuring overall intelligence. Michael S Kramer, lead author and professor of pediatrics at the university, said: "Our study provides the strongest evidence to date that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding makes kids smarter."

Dr J P Dadhisch, pediatrician and former secretary of the National Neonatology Forum, said, "India recommends breastfeeding within one hour and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months for every child. However, just a quarter of the children born every year are fed breast milk exclusively till they are six months old. "Two reasons could link breastfeeding and IQ. Mother's breast milk contains fatty acids like DHA and AA that play a vital role in brain development. Even though neurological cells exist in kids, its these fatty acids that help nerve cells to send signals."

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