We come across our fair share of weird and wonderful studies here at IMAGE.ie, but this one’s sure to encourage some debate. Apparently, according to a major new study published in the Lancet Global Health Journal, the longer your kids are breastfed, the more likely they are to earn good money when they grow up and start working. Yep, quite the leap, but one they’ve made nonetheless. It’s a worthy line of enquiry, if you think about it; it’s been well documented that breastfeeding is best for your baby in their developmental years, but there’s not much out there in terms of knowing whether breastfeeding would make any meaningful difference as babies turn into adults (this writer hopes not, given that she was never breastfed. She also hopes to get over this act of parental negligence some time soon. Thanks, Mom.)
As reported by various outlets today, this study followed some 3,500 people right up to the age of 30, all of whom were born in 1982. Various enquiries were made, such as if they were breastfed and how long for, as well as IQ tests when they reached the age of 30, questions about the amount of money the were earning and the levels of education they had reached. Ensuring the validity of their research, the project leads took 10 different variables into consideration when assessing the IQs of the 3,500 people (such as education level of parents, financial situation of family when they were born etc).
As for their findings? Unfortunately for those of us who didn’t drink from our mothers’ mammaries, they found that the longer the babies were breastfed for the greater the long-term benefits. One key example was this: a baby who had been breastfed for at least 12 months was reported to a) have had a higher IQ than a baby who was breastfed for one month or less (by a staggering 4 points), b) they had achieved a higher level of education (0.9 years more to be specific) and c) they enjoyed a higher income per month by the time they were 30.
Lead researcher Dr Bernardo Lessa Horta says “Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability.”
Were you breastfed? Would you be more encouraged to breastfeed with findings like this?