As per a recent study, preterm children who are breastfed perform better academically and are less likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to earlier research, preemies are more likely to perform poorly in math, reading, and other academic subjects. They are also more likely to develop ADHD. But giving them breast milk at a young age seems to mitigate this risk and promotes better long-term results for the brain, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open IN 2022.
The study examined information on 586 infants delivered at five Australian birth facilities at fewer than 33 weeks’ gestation. The volume of breast milk the newborns received daily and the length of time their parents breastfed were also examined by the researchers.
Ultimately, the study’s findings revealed a correlation between mother’s milk consumption and IQ performance as well as reading and math proficiency by age 7. Parents also noted less ADHD symptoms in preemies who consumed more mother’s milk. Additionally, longer nursing periods of up to 18 months were linked to better reading, spelling, and math test results.
“Our study confirms recommended strategies for supporting parents to provide maternal milk for preterm infants,” said researcher Dr. Mandy Brown Belfort. She is director of clinical research with Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Department of Pediatric Newborn IQ Medicine in Boston, and an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “And it strengthens the call for health policies and parental leave policies that support rather than work against parents,” Belfort continued in a Harvard news release. “As a society, we need to invest in families — it’s an investment that will continue to benefit children when they reach school age.”
As an observational study, it is impossible to establish a causal link between breastfeeding and improved academic performance. The authors recognise that there might have been more factors involved.