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Breastfeeding will NOT make babies smarter, say scientists

Mothers will not make their babies more intelligent by breastfeeding them.

A new study claimed that family environment and stimulation of infants are the key to a good IQ -- not breastfeeding.

Scientists at the University of Southampton followed 241 children from birth until aged four years.

They investigated the relationship between breastfeeding and the use of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fortified formula in infancy, and performance in tests of intelligence.

The researchers found that, after they had taken account of the influence of mothers' intelligence and level of education, there was no relationship between the estimated total intake of DHA in infancy and a child's IQ.

Dr Catharine Gale, who led the study, said: "This study helps to dispel some of the myths surrounding DHA.

"We do know that there are clear health benefits to breastfeeding.


"But DHA, which is naturally present in breast milk and added into some formulas, is not the secret ingredient that will turn your child into an Einstein.

"Children's IQ bears no relation to the levels of DHA they receive as babies.

"Factors in the home, such as the mother's intelligence and the quality of mental stimulation the children receive, were the most important influences on their IQ."

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are found in high concentrations in the brain and accumulate during the brain's growing spurt, which occurs between the last trimester of pregnancy and the first year of life.

Although this research has shown a child's IQ is not influenced by DHA, previous studies have shown that a lack of DHA during periods of rapid brain growth may lead to problems in brain development.

Researchers used data from the Southampton's Women's Survey at the University's School of Medicine, the largest project studying women's health and lifestyle ever carried out in Britain.