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Those Brilliant Breastfed Babies!

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New study adds fuel to the "breast is best" philosophy, but does it also add guilt for those who can't breastfeed?


If you're looking for another reason to breastfeed, try this one: Breastfed babies are smarter, according to a study of nearly 14,000 kids.

Montreal researchers found that Moms in the study who breastfed exclusively for at least three months had kids who scored 7.5 points higher on their verbal IQ and 5 points higher on overall IQ, say researchers. So breastfed babies aren't only healthier, they're smarter too.

This is great news for breastfeeding Moms, but what about the Moms who choose not to or just can't? Does this just add more unwanted guilt to those Moms who say experts already make them feel like pariahs for not breastfeeding?

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sallie May 7, 2008, 8:49 PM

I hope I’ll be able to breastfeed, but for those who can’t/won’t…isn’t that what breast pumps are for?

Just wondering since I’m barely pregnant and don’t really know..yet.

Amy May 7, 2008, 9:30 PM

Sallie, breast pumps don’t do you any good if your milk doesn’t come in at all…

I worked with a lactation nurse for two weeks after the twins were born, and nothing.

So yes, please slap on more guilt.

LMC May 8, 2008, 12:38 AM

The thing is that some people already feel way guilty about not breastfeeding. This study, and others of its kind, simply state the results of an experiment. That’s it. I wonder why some people are so petrified of hearing research findings. Whether or not the findings are accurate, they are simply results. Nothing more, nothing less. People should feel free to question the hypothesis, the methodology, the interpretation of the data,and the researchers’ biases, but it is neurotic to protest the very existence of the research. Those who know that they are doing their best will not feel guilty upon reading the results of some study. If someone feels guilt upon the release of research, perhaps that person believes that she is in fact *not* doing her best.

None of this is in judgment of those who do not, cannot, or will not breastfeed. I’m simply stating that guilt does not surface because of external forces; it surfaces in response to an internal cue.

Maureen May 8, 2008, 7:52 AM

I don’t think it SHOULD add to guilt-it’s just more information so that moms can make informed decisions. Have I/do I breastfeed? Is this the best choice? Yes. Do I always make the best decisions 100% of the time? Nope-who does? No matter what mom’s will feel guilty about something. Just continue to make the decisions that work best for your family. Your way might not be my way but that doesn’t make it the wrong way!

April May 8, 2008, 9:03 AM

I breastfed my son for 5 months - and never wanted to. I never had the desire the breastfeed, as it made me uncomfortable. But I felt pressured by everyone who spouted “breast is best” the entire time I was pregnant.

Now I’ve learned that while “breast is best” in SOME cases, it isn’t best in all. I hated breastfeeding, and it made me anxious every time - I know my son could pick up on that. When we made the switch to formula, we were BOTH much happier.

And I’m sorry - but I know several babies that were nursed until the age of 2 (and beyond) and they are in no way smarter or healthier than my son. I honestly think it depends on the genes of each baby. My son was on formula for 7 months - not once did he get sick. And he’s advanced for his age. The breastfed babies I know (all 3 of them - LOL) each had ear infections all throughout their early years and are in no way more advanced than my son.

rrika May 8, 2008, 12:03 PM

Well, being a mom and a current breastfeeding mother I think that everyone is different. I will always say that breast is best. But with having 4 children I will say that yes they were all different, and still are. Yes they are smart but in a different way.. I would say though for the moms that cannot produce the milk, call a milk bank or see if you can have milk from another mother. Trust me it works.

didn'tbreastfed May 8, 2008, 6:03 PM

This study is a load of crap!

proudmommaofsmartadoptees May 9, 2008, 12:47 AM

I’d like to see how this study explains away the intelligence of my boys, both of whom were adopted and therefore were never breastfed. The stimuli provided by parents and the family boost children’s intelligence and every mom can commit to stimulating her child’s senses and intellect whether she feeds him/her at her breast or through a bottle.

Melissa  May 9, 2008, 1:54 AM

I pumped for a month so my son could learn to latch on, and I’m glad I did because once we caught on, breastfeeding seemed to make our lives so much easier and more convenient. But as for IQ points…maybe there is a difference, maybe not, but it’s not such a huge number of points anyway, and of course, even if the study is correct, it’s looking at averages. Certainly doesn’t mean that somebody who isn’t breastfed won’t be intelligent, or that someone who is, will…

Heather May 9, 2008, 3:33 PM

I feel strongly that judging people for making a different choice isn’t helpful.

For mother’s of premature infants, breastfeeding isn’t an option. Formula would be better than compounding postpartum depression for those having a rough time.

Judging someone isn’t helping you and certainly isn’t helping them. Being able to accept and appreciate differences in those around us will make this a better place for our children. So lets be kind to eachother….

By the way, I find breasting feeding to be a wonderful bonding experience and a lot easier and less expensive than using formula but, I know not everyone feels the same.

Arnethette  May 11, 2008, 9:41 AM

One of my friends gave birth to a son 2months early. She pump her breast everyday and took to the NIC unit so her baby could be fed.Her doctor said it was the best thing she could do.Her baby recovered 60% faster than other babies born 2 months early. Last year my grandson was born May 26 and he was due the middle of July. I told my daughter in-law and she try the breast feeding and my son out of the hospital less than 3weeks.

Mom2Divas May 12, 2008, 10:10 AM

I was a breasfeeding mamma. I just want to say that just because babies are breastfeed does not mean they will be healthier. My daughter was the image of health untill she was 4 mos old, at which point her kidneys shut down and now she needs a transplant. I feed as long as i was allowed, but she has to be on a VERY strict diet thats cant be measured by my milk. I think what is best for baby is moms decision. because its not only baby that has needs as well. good for moms who try and fail..good for moms who do great..good for moms who formula feed..all that matters is that your baby is eating…dont worry about the rest of the crap and peoples opinion!

Erin May 14, 2008, 11:33 AM

My mom had 5 kids, and breast-fed none of them. One is a PhD who has lived and worked all over the world. The next (me) is a JD/PhD (meaning I have a law degree and a doctoral degree). The third designed the disaster management computer system currently being used by NYC post-911. The fourth is in college on a nearly full-tuition scholarship with plans to go to law school. The last is #1 in her class at the most prestigious and elite private high school in our area.

Screw guilt - bring on the formula!

angie May 16, 2008, 5:37 PM

I can’t find the results of this study and the variables involved. How is the intelligence measured? Do the children come from middle class families with access to advanced educational opportunities? Do they belong to stay at home moms? I’m not judging, but intelligence is acquired not born or passively given with breastmilk. Experience/stimulation allows the neurons to grow, not breastmilk. The more the child experiences life the more intelligence is acquired.

Mel May 28, 2008, 9:49 AM

I dont care what anyone says, breast is best. i hate washing bottles, i hate packing extra crap in my diaper bag, its whats best for me and my baby. if you decide not to breastfeed thats on you.

Mel May 28, 2008, 9:53 AM

I dont care what anyone says, breast is best. i hate washing bottles, i hate packing extra crap in my diaper bag, its whats best for me and my baby. i lost all my baby wt. w/o being on a diet, thats a plus for me, saved me almost 1,000 over having to buy that nasty penny smelling formula, another plus for me. and think about it if you wouldnt drink it, why should your infant? you pick whats best for yourself food wise, why not for them? i understand some women cant breastfeed and thats alright some just CANT, but if you have the ability to, i encourage you to do it.

Anne Marie April 19, 2011, 1:25 AM

I would hypothosize that these results have more to do with the social interaction of breastfeeding than the act itself… if a Mom who bottle feeds is still holding her baby a lot and interacting with it affectionately, I really doubt it makes even that much difference. In case you weren’t aware, 7.5 points of intelligence is not significant. It is less than half a standard deviation in intelligence. Unless it was two kids who were both strongest intellectually in the same area, I doubt you’d notice a difference… and even then, diligence makes up for a lot and is a virtue that can be taught.

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