Breastfeeding and Intelligence Scores: Nursing For Higher IQ


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Exeperts encourage breastfeeding up to a year if possible. Photo by Petr Kratochvil.

Experts encourage breastfeeding at least a year if possible. Photo by Petr Kratochvil.

Increasing Baby’s IQ: What Do Others Think?

In an editorial, Dimitri A. Christakis, M.D., M.P.H., of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute, points out some very important information regarding the way society views breastfeeding. Dr. Christakis writes,

“… breastfeeding an infant for the first year of life would be expected to increase his or her IQ by about four points or one-third of a standard deviation. However, the problem currently is not so much that most women do not initiate breastfeeding, it is that they do not sustain it.

In the United States about 70 percent of women overall initiate breastfeeding, although only 50 percent of African American women do. However, by six months, only 35 percent and 20 percent, respectively, are still breastfeeding. Furthermore, workplaces need to provide opportunities and spaces for mothers to use them. Fourth, breastfeeding in public should be destigmatized. Clever social media campaigns and high-quality public service announcements might help with that.

As with lead, some of these actions may require legislative action either at the federal or state level. Let’s allow our children’s cognitive function be the force that tilts the scale, and let’s get on with it.”

Breastfeeding For Cognitive Function

Breastfeeding provides multiple benefits, even making your kids smarter; however, there are some women who cannot breastfeed and those who couldn’t breastfeed as long. It is important to remember that breastfeeding isn’t the only thing you can do to help your child succeed. As Dr. Belfort explained, spending quality time with your child can help foster your baby’s development, even if you can’t breastfeed.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding Report Card. Updated June 6, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.

Belfort MB, Rifas-Shiman, S., Kleinman, K., et al “Infant feeding and childhood cognition at ages 3 and 7 years: Effects of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity” JAMA Pediatr 2013; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.455 

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