New research shows that breastfeeding your baby comes with more positive effects than we had previously thought.
A new study out of Dublin, Ireland, has found that breastfeeding your child was tied to a very positive effect — fewer problems with ‘hyperactivity’ at the age of three.
Lead researcher of the study, Lisa-Christine Girad, says that the three and five-year-olds of her study who had been breast-fed scored higher on vocabulary and problem-solving tests. As well, based on parental ratings, those breast-fed babies seemed to have fewer noted behavioral problems.
While some positive effects may also be connected to the family’s social class and parental education levels, it’s been proven that breastfeeding is linked to higher IQ and larger income as adults.
Girard does believe that the lower hyperactivity levels may change once children start school and have other external influences on their impulsivity and behavior, as the lower levels of hyperactivity of the studied three-year-olds seemed to disappear by the age of five.
Researchers are still trying to look at the bigger, more complete picture when it comes to benefits of nursing, though. The idea that breastfeeding makes kids smarter or behave better over the long-term has yet to be proven, especially since Girard notes that in developed countries, breast-feeding mothers tend to be more educated and less-likely to smoke or engage in other behaviors that may be ‘risky’ to their developing baby while pregnant.
That said, their study, which looked at 8,000 Irish families, showed that three-year-olds who had been exclusively breast-fed for at least six months did indeed have slightly lower hyperactivity levels when they reached five.
So while some may find the research inconclusive and ‘thoughtful,’ as pediatrician Dr. Lydia Furman called it, there’s no denying that breastfeeding helps protect babies from ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, as well as offering longer-term risk factors of asthma and childhood obesity in moms.
More, breastfeeding can reduce risks of breast and ovarian cancer in those moms. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life.