A new study has found that infants breast-fed for six months or longer, especially boys, perform better academically than bottle-fed children at school, newswire HealthDay News recently reported.
The study, published online December 20 in Pediatrics – the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was conducted by Wendy Oddy, a researcher at the Australia-based Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, and her colleagues.
According to the news source, the study group surveyed the academic scores at age 10 of more than 1,000 children in Western Australia.
After adjusting for gender, family income, maternal factors, and early stimulation at home like reading to children, the study found that babies breast-fed for six months or longer had higher academic scores on standardized tests than those breast-fed for less than six months.
However, the improvements were only significant from a statistical point of view for the boys, according to the study.
In fact, the surveyed boys were found to score better in math, reading, spelling and writing if they were breast-fed six months or more, while girls had a small but statistically insignificant benefit in reading scores, HealthDay News quoted the study as saying.
The reason for the gender difference is unclear.
But, Oddy said that the protective role of breast milk on the brain and its later consequences for language development may have greater benefits for boys because they are more vulnerable during critical development periods.
Dr. Ruth Lawrence, director of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center at the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine in New York said that the new findings should not discourage mothers from breastfeeding their daughters, because human milk has nutrients important for brain development for both sexes.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), less than 20 percent of infants in Vietnam are breastfed exclusively during the first six months.
The organization estimates the average rate of exclusive breastfeeding for Asia at 42 percent.
Information from ThanhNienNews