Breast best for boys

Breast feeding improves academic performance – but only in boys.

Previous studies showed that breast-fed children had higher IQs but no-one had looked at gender differences. (Pediatrics 2009-3489) until researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Australia tested over 1,000 ten-year olds.

Stress and poverty are know to have a long-term impact on a range of health outcomes and mothers who breast feed tend to be better-educated and wealthier.

Allowing for that they found that: boys who had been mainly breast-fed for at least 6 months scored 9% higher in mathematics and writing tests, 7% higher in spelling, and 6% higher in reading, compared with boys fed with formula milk or breast-fed for shorter periods.

There were no similar significant results for girls

Breast milk contains the optimal nutrients for brain and central nervous system development but why it should have more effect on boys is still not understood.

Following research published in the British Medical Journal, the government is reviewing WHO advice that mothers should breastfeed for the first 6 months.

Scientists now think that babies should also be given solid food as well otherwise they might develop iron deficiency, food intolerance and  allergies later in life.

More recently researchers at UCLA say they found the “mama bear” effect when comparing breast-feeding mothers with those that weren’t.

Nursing mums were twice as aggressive as bottle-feeders or women without children.

The researchers think that breastfeeding gave the Mums more courage to defend themselves. They published the study in September’s Psychological Science and noted that similar aggression has been found in other species which lactate.

I don’t know if researcher Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook has any kids of her own but I think most women would agree that they would do anything to protect their babies. Although I am a psychologist I have to agree with most of the comments posted on the Mail online web-site about this latter story. They do seem to be stating the b******g obvious!

Post first published in September 2011


5 thoughts on “Breast best for boys

  1. […] Breast might be best for boys but having a boy in the first place is a different matter. […]

  2. Camille Effland says:

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  3. Hermelinda Monce says:

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  4. […] was regardless of whether the babies were breast-fed or bottle-fed although there was evidence that breast milk helped the babies’ cognitive […]

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