Why are breastfed babies smarter?

Attention and reading make the children of nursing mothers so smart

Breastfeeding mothers are sensitive to their child's feelings and often read to them. © Brigham Young University
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Breastfed babies will become clever children later - but why? The reason for this, US researchers have now enlightened: If mothers pay attention to the attentions of their babies and read to them every day, then is already a big step to a clever child done. After all, it's not breastfeeding that makes children smart, as the sociologists in the journal The Journal of Pediatrics report.


Breast-fed children will later have a higher IQ and fare better at school. Many studies prove that. However, this is not clear yet. Sociologists at Brigham Young University wanted to know: is it the time of the close bond between mother and child, is it something in the milk itself, or is it other reasons that make the children so intelligent?

Targeting 7, 500 mothers and their babies

In a comprehensive study, the scientists accompanied 7, 500 US-American mothers and their babies from birth to five years of age. In addition to breastfeeding, sociologists were particularly interested in the age from which and how often the mothers read to their children.

They also filmed the mothers and their children during various activities. This way, they were able to measure the attention of the mothers, who gave them to their children to solve a difficult task. How well the children were able to mathematical tasks and how well they could read, then tested the scientists from the age of four. display

Sensitive antennas and the handle to the book are the recipe for success

The sociologists observed the already known: continuous breastfeeding for three months makes the children smarter. However, the reason for this is not in itself. Two other things seem much more crucial: A sensitive antenna for the emotions of the children and regular reading. "Nursing mothers tend to both, " explains Ben Gibbs.

Paying particular attention to his baby's feelings and being read to him daily from the ninth month of life, it may even have a two to three-month lead in brain development at the age of four, as the researchers observed. "It's the education that really makes the difference, " Gibbs says.

Is intelligence the luxury of the beneficiaries?

Some children are at a higher risk than others who do not attend school. For most of these children, this is because they did not learn the best education in their early childhood, the researchers estimate the situation. For example, working single mothers enjoy far less luxury when it comes to spending time with their child, paying attention to it and reading it to them every day.

"That's the luxury of the beneficiaries, " says Renate Forste. "This makes it much harder to improve the conditions for children growing up in a disadvantaged environment. But these things can be learned and they play an important role. And being sensitive to the little ones and reading them to them does not necessarily mean that the mother can take on other people, "Forste warns. (The Journal of Pediatrics, 2014; doi: 10.1016 / j.jpeds.2013.10.015)

(Brigham Young University, 28.02.2014 - KEL)