Saturday, November 24, 2007

Breast Feeding And Smarter Babies

A new study concludes that breast feeding may help increase IQ in the setting of the right genes. The study followed 3000 children who were fed by breast milk and by bottled formula. Nine out of ten children scored higher by 7 points on the IQ scale if they were breast fed. Breast milk contains fatty acids that help the growth of brain cells. Ninety percent of babies carry the gene variant (C version of FADS2 ) which helps the process by which these fats stimulate brain development. The children who carried this gene and who were breast fed were the ones who scored higher on the IQ test.

One group of the children was born in New Zealand between 1972-73. These children were tested at ages 7, 9, 11, and 13. Fifty seven percent of these children were breast fed. The other group of children was born in England between 1994-1995, and 48% of these children were breast fed. They were tested at age 5. Both groups were tested with Wechsler.

The results were the same for babies with normal or low birth weight. There was not a difference noted in those who were born into a high or low-social-class, or in those who had mothers with high or low-IQs. Children with the FADS2 ‘C’ genotype were no more likely to have been breastfed than children with the FADS2 ‘G’ genotype.

This data helps support the interactive roles that both genetic and environmental factors play in our development.

References: please see links.

Photo: courtesy of msnbc.


doc said...

Breast feeding has numerous benefits including enhancing immunity and lowering risk for infections.

Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Agreed doc. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The thing you are not mentioning is that the vast majority of people score "Average" on the IQ test. What would be more interesting is to know what percentage of those breast fed kids were Very Superior, Superior, Bright Normal, Average, etc.
Is that percentage any different than those who weren't breast fed?

What we are missing is the percentage of breast fed vs. bottle people who score Average and above. Without that data your seven points is just seven points and doesn't indicate whether that breast fed child is just as Average as the bottle fed one.