Milking an intelligent debate

ANOTHER survey has just been released claiming that breastfed babies grow up to have higher IQs and earn more money.

The study followed 3,500 newborns for 30 years. At the age of 30 all the participants were given an IQ test and the breastfed babies scored the highest.

The researchers maintain that the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHAs) found in breast milk are essential for brain development – and that the longer the child is breastfed the more benefits experienced.

I can just feel my good friend Claire’s blood boiling as I gaze over this most recent ‘breastfed good – formula bad’ study. Claire is probably one of the most intelligent women that I know – she’s a director of a multinational company, a history scholar and an all-round smart cookie, who didn’t receive even a drop of breast milk her entire life. And her brother, who also wasn’t fed breast-milk, works for the British intelligence agency, MI5.

As she would quite rightly argue, it’s important to also consider in these studies the intelligence of the parents and their social status, as well as point out that genetics play a major part in a child’s IQ.

That said, of course, breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. It helps to protect babies against stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma and allergies, while also helping new mums lose their extra baby pounds more quickly. And if a woman wants to breastfeed – that’s great! Go ahead!

But what isn’t fair is the ‘guilt’ that these studies instil in expectant mothers. Breastfeeding is a choice. But for some mothers it’s just not an option, so they shouldn’t be made to feel that their child will grow up to have lower intelligence and less potential to get a good job than those that are breastfed.

Whether your child ends up being a highflying business entrepreneur or the CEO of Microsoft has more to do with love, nurture and a good education than it has to do with a bottle or breastfeeding.

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Written by

Jane Plunkett