Breastfeeding increases IQ and strengthens the immune system

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Breastfeeding can relatively improve a childs IQ. Breastfeeding is the best way for newborns to get the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to six months of age and then continued until at least two years of age, with adequate complementary feeding.

A study, published in The Lancet as part of a series on breastfeeding, takes an in-depth look at short-term and long-term outcomes for mothers and children associated with breastfeeding using information gathered from 28 systematic reviews and meta-analyzes. The new study concludes that children and adolescents who were regularly breastfed score higher on intelligence tests. The researchers analyzed data from 16 studies.

Expanding breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save the lives of 823,000 children under the age of five worldwide each year and prevent 20,000 deaths from breast cancer

The benefits of breastfeeding

Babies who are breastfed enjoy several benefits in life, including improved intelligence and a strengthened immune system, said Werner Schultink, director of nutrition for the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF).

"Breast milk is the most optimal food for newborns, it contains exactly the right amounts of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and is completely geared to their needs," said Schultink.

Children who are breastfed are less likely to develop childhood illnesses like pneumonia, but they are also less likely to develop diabetes or obesity later in life, he said. Even more important, there are cognitive benefits for children who are breastfed.

The IQ of breastfed children increases an average of three points compared to babies who are not breastfed, said Schultink, who has a doctorate in human nutrition and has worked for UNICEF since 1999.

Breastfeeding does not just benefit babies; Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer, and the health and cognitive benefits associated with breastfeeding also benefit society as a whole, Schultink added.

The infant milk substitute industry uses an excellent marketing approach. She uses compelling messages and many people believe that it is better to use formula and stop breastfeeding; this is far from the truth. It is important to know that breast milk substitutes do not have the immunological properties that breast milk does. Breastfeeding helps breastfed babies fight disease and infection, he said.

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