Eager to get a jump on your little one's scholastic success? Then breastfeed, according to a study that found breastfed babies went on to have higher academic score at age 10 compared to their formula-fed counterparts.
Published in the January 2011 issue of Pediatrics, researchers in Australia collected academic data from a group of over a thousand 10-year-old children. After identifying which children had been breastfed for at least six months during infancy, researchers uncovered that boys who were breastfed as babies had improved academic scores in math, reading, and spelling. For 10-year-old girls, there was a small benefit in reading scores.
The connection between breastfeeding and academic achievement? It could be the nutritional value of breast milk, including all that brain-boosting DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that plays a pivotal role in healthy brain development. Or it might relate to the bond that develops between a nursing mom and her baby, a closeness that may somehow translate to increased self-esteem and, as a result, stronger school performance.
Fifth grade seem a little too far off to worry about right now? Other reasons to breastfeed your baby for six months or longer include fewer illnesses during infancy, including ear aches and diarrhea, and lower risk for diseases ranging from obesity to diabetes.