provides substances that are nutritionally perfect for human babies
and protects them from illness. These are needed for growth and
development of the infant's rapidly growing brain and central
nervous system. It also provides the loving interaction that forms
the basis for establishing the child's personality and learning
readiness. Breastmilk is the foundation of food security for all
the babies of the world and is one of the world's most valuable,
renewable natural resources. It is produced by women everywhere
and indeed is the only food equally available to rich and poor
Breastfeeding and later Cognitive and Academic outcomes
(Horwood LJ and Fergusson DM. Pediatrics 101:e9, January 1998)
This study examines the association between the duration of
breastfeeding and childhood cognitive ability and academic achievements
over the period from 8 to 18 years. Increasing duration of breastfeeding
was associated with consistent and statistically significant increases
in (1) intelligence quotient (IQ) assessed at ages 8 and 9 years
(2) reading comprehension, mathematical ability, and scholastic
ability assessed during the period from 10 to 13 years (3) teacher
ratings of reading and mathematics assessed at 8 and 12 years
and (4) higher levels of attainment in school leaving examinations.
and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born premature
(Lucas, A et al. Lancet 339:261-264, 1992) A follow up British
study of premature infants reports the intelligence quotients
results of 8-year-olds who had been fed their own mother's milk
after birth. The children who had received their mother's milk
had a significantly higher IQ at ages 7.5 to 8 years than children
who did not receive breastmilk.
differences between 9 year-old children fed breast-milk or formula
(Lanting, CI et al. Lancet: 344:1319-1322, 1994) A Dutch
retrospective study revealed that children fed with artificial
milk exclusively or supplemented to breastmilk within the first
three weeks of life were found to have twice the rate of minor
neurological dysfunction as compared to children fully breastfed
at least for the first 21 days of life. Possible mechanisms
suggested include the psychosocial features of breastfeeding,
the beneficial effects maternal hormones (such as the thyroid
stimulating hormones) secreted through breastmilk and of essential
long chain fatty acids (arachidonic, docosahexaenoic) known
to be present in breastmilk and missing in most artificial baby
for Optimal Mental Development
de Andraca I, Uauy R, Simopoulos AP, Dutra de Oliveira JE
and Desai ID (eds): Behavioral and Metabolic Aspects of Breastfeeding.
World Rev.Nutr Diet, Basel, Karget, 1995, vol. 78-001-27. The
study concludes that "special fatty acids" in breastmilk lead
to increased intelligence quotients (IQs) and better visual
of breastfeeding on the infant's intellectual development
(Temboury, MC et al. J Pediatric Gastroenter Nutr 18:32-36,1994)
A prospective Spanish study says that breastfeeding acts
as "protective mechanisms for the mother and child in an adverse
environment" and that breastfeeding itself "improves the mother-child
relationship and the infant's stimulation."
does breastfeeding helps the child's intelligence?
The ongoing research shows that breastfeeding is not only important
for health, nutrition and the development of the child but also
enhances brain development and learning readiness as well. By
the age of six, when children generally start school, most of
the brain's neural connections are already made. For the scientific
evidence in its favour see box on Page 1.
you think that education is the best investment for life?
All over the world there is increasing knowledge and concern
about early child development and "significant interactions"
in the family. There is widespread interest in improving the
quality of child care and in integrating knowledge about the
needs of the developing child into our education systems and
provide breastfeeding education?
Developing critical thinking skills and applying them to breastfeeding
issues helps children, youth and adults examine the advantages
and disadvantages of various feeding practices, form their own
opinions and make informed choices. Learners become aware of
pressures from advertisers who promote bottle-feeding, of how
careers and breastfeeding can go together and the kind of support
breastfeeding women need from society and employers. They will
be better able to make informed decisions in their own lives.
to provide breastfeeding education?
Formal and informal education gives children, youth and adults
numerous opportunities to obtain correct information about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding information can be easily incorporated into subjects
such as science, biology, family studies, nutrition, and home
should breastfeeding education be introduced early?
A comprehensive approach to learning for life includes helping
children develop the literary, numerical and psychosocial skills
and the knowledge base that will equip them to be active and
effective participants in the events of their lives. In this
approach to learning, teachers and students need to relate in
new ways, so that the classroom experience – the very process
of learning – becomes a preparation for life. The participatory
methodology is the best way for learning new things and this
methodology should be adapted in education from the pre nursery
should we teach about breastfeeding?
It is important to include basic messages about breastfeeding
(e.g., breastfeeding is the normal way for babies to eat, and
the mother should not be shy to breastfeed her child freely
Fact Sheet is a publication of Breastfeeding Promotion Network
of India (BPNI)
Written & Compiled - Dr. Arun Gupta & Mrs. Jessy George
For additional information or questions, please contact BPNI
BP-33, Pitampura, Delhi-110 034
Ph: 7443445, Fax: 91-11-7219606, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org