Feeding by Bottle or Breast, Baby's IQ Unaffected

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To bottle feed or breast feed a newborn baby has been a point of contention for new mothers for generations. One of the most influential factors in this decision has been the ongoing research that insinuates that a child s intelligence is affected by the choice of milk given to the baby.

However, a new study has found that these prior assertions are incorrect, and that there's no significant difference in the intelligence of a breast-fed baby, as compared to one that's bottle fed.

Researchers from Goldsmith University of London studied 11,000 British bottle-fed and breast-fed children, born between 1994 and 1996, and measured their level of intelligence nine times between the ages of 2-16.

They found a slight increase in average IQ of breastfed girls, compared with bottle-fed girls at the age of two, however, the same increase was not found in boys. They did not observe differences in the average IQ, regarding those fed by breast as compared to bottle over this period of time. After taking the mothers ages and social status into consideration, the researchers concluded that both sets of children had an average IQ of 100.

Dr. Sophie von Stumm, from Goldsmith, and chief researcher of the study, told the British newspaper The Telegraph: "Children -- and adults -- differ in their cognitive abilities, and it is important to identify factors that give rise to these differences. But comparatively small events like breastfeeding are very unlikely to be at the core of something as big and complex as children's differences in IQ."

Alternatively, children's variations in IQ are better explained by long-term factors, such as a child s socioeconomic status and factors of nurture, as asserted by the proceeding findings.

Researchers used data from the Twins Early Development Study, which analyzed the impact of nature and nurture between identical twins and non-identical twins. Prior studies reported that breastfeeding improves a child s intelligence.

This assumption of breastfeeding improving IQ is solely based on certain proteins found in human breast milk, responsible for attributing to the development of nerve cells, and fostering a strong immune system to fight against infections.

Mothers should be aware that they are not harming their child if they chose not to, or cannot, breastfeed," Stuymm told The Telegraph. "Being bottle fed as an infant won't cost your child a chance at a university degree later in life. Information such as this removes the level of guilt felt by new mothers who are unable, or decide against, breast-feeding their baby."