New research from the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) suggests that the neurocognitive test scores of children who were breastfed are higher than those of children who were not breastfed.

Continued research on breastfeeding effects on children show the benefits, and a new study of the cognitive test scores of nine- and ten-year-olds shows that those children who were breastfed had higher scores than those children who were not breastfed.

Daniel Adan Lopez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Epidemiology program at URMC and the first author of the study. He said that continued findings like this will hopefully improve the motivation to promote breastfeeding from a personal and policy standpoint. Hayley Martin, Ph.D is a fourth-year medical student at the Medical Scientist Training Program and a co-author of the study. She focuses her research on breastfeeding. She says this study's findings are important for families when deciding about breastfeeding (or not) and it may encourage mothers to choose to breastfeed and with goals of one year or more. Martin says it's even more important to show the critical importance of providing equity-focused access to breastfeeding support, prenatal education and care so that there are fewer structural barriers to breastfeeding, particularly for mothers of color.

The research team looked at the test scores of over 9,000 nine- and ten-year-old children who participated in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. They looked at the variations in cumulative scores and broke them down between breastfed and non-breastfed children. The findings also suggested that the longer the child was breastfed, the higher the scores seemed to be.

Lopez said the strongest association was in those children who were breastfed over 12 months, with the scores of children breastfed from seven to 12-months being slightly less and those nursed from one to six-months-old going down a bit more. Still ALL scores were higher than those of children who didn't breastfeed at all.

Dr. Ed Freedman is the principal investigator and lead author of the study and said that the findings continue to support the important work that's done showing how lactation and breastfeeding impact a child, even as long as 10 years after they're born.

Image: LookerStudio/Shutterstock