Researchers from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil found that the longer a child is breastfed, the higher his or her IQ through age 30, and the earning power of the person at that age in also significantly higher.
However, women who don’t breastfeed should find comfort knowing there are many factors involved in developing a child’s IQ and success later in life.
Researchers followed almost 6,000 families of all different socioeconomic classes from Brazil, who had babies born in 1982, with only about 3,500 of them provided information about the length of breastfeeding as well as IQ, education, and income when the “child” was 30 years old.
Scientists noticed strong connections between how long a child was breastfed and his or her IQ, education, and income in adulthood. Breastfeeding for 12 months, compared to less than one month, was linked to an IQ increase of just under 4 points, which is about a third of a standard deviation. It was also linked to a monthly income increase of 341 Brazilian reals, which is equivalent to a boost of about a third of the average income.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first 6 months exclusively, and then partially up through 12 months. It’s probably best to do this if you can, but if you can’t for any reason, remember that there is a laundry list of other variables that go into raising a happy, healthy, and successful child. And it’s probably best to focus on these.