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Breast is best for academic advances

BREAST is definitely best if you want your child to do well at school.

Irish children who start life on their mother's milk have higher reading and maths scores at the age of nine than their bottle-fed friends.

The academic benefits of breastfeeding have been established in a major Irish study of 8,226 nine-year-old children, the biggest ever of its type.

The research is part of the Economic and Social Research Institute's seven-year 'Growing Up in Ireland' study, which started in 2007.

Researcher Cathal McCrory said they asked parents whether children had been breastfed as infants and also measured their performance in standardised tests of reading and maths.

They found that children who were breastfed scored 8.7 percentage points higher on reading and 7.4 percentage points higher on maths, compared with those who were bottle fed.

Mr McCrory and his research partner, David Layte, also found the educational benefits of breastfeeding varied across social groups, and was largest among the most socially disadvantaged.

Irish Independent