There is some new information to add to the “breastfeeding versus formula” debate: it turns out breastfeeding makes no difference in long-term cognitive development.
While breastfeeding includes short-term benefits such as helping babies fight infections, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics saw no statistical differences in development by age 5 when comparing children who were breastfed and those who weren’t .
The study looked at the development of around 8,000 babies from Ireland. Researchers tested the children on vocabulary, behavioral skills and problem-solving abilities at the age of three, and then again when they turned five.
Researches from the University of College Dublin found that three-year-olds who had been breastfed for at least six months tested better for cognitive skills and had reduced hyperactivity. However, when reevaluated at age 5, the differences were minuscule.
The study authors concluded, “The results of this study add to the growing literature by showing that some statistically significant positive noncognitive benefits may result from longer durations of breastfeeding. Yet, beyond the statistical implications, the practical implications appear minimal and short lived.”
Photo: Beeki, CC-BY
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.