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Breast Feeding & the IQ Advantage: August 25, 2013

Mandy Courney is a mother of three. The youngest is little Louisa.

“Louisa is 19 months,” says Mandy Courney.

And like her siblings before her, Louisa was raised on breast milk.

“We lived in California and that’s just something everybody did at least for the first six months to a year. And it’s something we thought was important for our child’s health,” says Courney.

As a rising number of women are choosing the breast over the bottle, studies show a rising number of benefits.

“Definitely breast-feeding has known benefits for mom and baby. We know it helped protect against infections for the baby, even help with brain development and IQ,” says Dr. Christy Cavanagh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

The influence on IQ intrigued researchers. A new Harvard University study found babies who were breast-fed exclusively for the first year gained 4 points on their IQ. Each month of breast-feeding translated to a third of a point. Tested at age 7 children had better verbal skills. Findings like these are making moms take notice.

“Right it’s definitely changed. In the last 15 years we found more mom’s at least try to breast feed,” says Dr. Cavanagh.

The study may motivate women to breast feed longer to reap the biggest boost in IQ and health.

I don’t think any of our kids were sick the first year while they were being breastfed,” says Courney.

“The best thing moms can do is think about it ahead of time. Moms that have thought about breast feeding, asked questions, gone to a breast feeding class, they will be much more successful,” says Dr. Cavanagh.

Making the decision to breast feed, a smart choice.