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Breastfeeding does not improve a child’s intelligence, despite the widespread belief that “breast is best” for IQ, according to a new study.
Scientists who conducted research on 11,000 British children found no reliable association between breastfeeding and higher IQ at age two.
Nor was breastfeeding related to improvements in intelligence as children grew up.
Previous studies have suggested a link between higher IQs and being breastfed. But there has been debate about whether such findings are skewed by the fact that those from less deprived groups are more likely to breastfeed.
The new research from Goldsmiths, University of London used data from the Twins Early Development Study.
The research project was set up to attempt to disentangle the impact of “nature and nurture” on children, involving identical twins, who share all the same genes, and non-identical twins.
Breastfeeding was associated with a small IQ advantage for girls at age two, but by 16 this had disappeared.
Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, the scientists concluded: “Breastfeeding has little benefit for early life intelligence and cognitive growth from toddlerhood through adolescence.”
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