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Why breastfed babies are so smart

Published: Friday, March 14 2014 8:00 p.m. MDT

In the study, they wrote that "although breastfeeding has important benefits in other settings, the encouragement of breastfeeding to promote school readiness does not appear to be a key intervention point. Promoting parenting behaviors that improve child cognitive development may be a more effective and direct strategy for practitioners to adopt, especially for disadvantaged children."

A BYU news release pointed out that child development expert Sandra Jacobson from Wayne State University School of Medicine praised the study in one of the journal's editorials. She emphasized that children in the study who were breastfed for at least six months did better than others on reading assessments because they also "experienced the most optimal parenting practices."

That's why they were reading-ready at 4 years, she said.

The same challenges that prevent some women from breastfeeding also prevent the other activities that boost cognitive development, Forste said. They include not being aware of the research showing what's needed, but also lack of time or resources to accomplish them. The good news is that it doesn't have to be mom who provides the extra boost. Dad or someone else can read to the baby every day and other people can also respond to a baby's emotional needs.

As for breastfeeding, there are proven benefits, including studies that show children who are breastfed are less likely to become obese. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of health benefits that breastfeeding bestows on babies, including protective benefit against respiratory infections, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases and allergies, including skin reactions like eczema, among others. The rate of sudden infant death syndrome is reduced by more than a third in breastfed babies, and there is a 15 percent to 30 percent reduction in adolescent and adult obesity, compared to those who were not breastfed.

Email: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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