According to a team of international researchers, the strongest evidence yet has emerged supporting the theory that breast-feeding boosts a child's intelligence.
The new study which was released earlier this week monitored children for the first six and a half years of their life and showed that breast-fed children scored about five percent higher in IQ tests and did better academically.
Previous studies have indicated brain development and intelligence benefits for breast-fed children — such as fewer infections, digestive problems, allergies and less risk of developing high blood pressure — but were inconclusive as to whether it was the breast-feeding that caused it.
How long should you breast-feed for?
Experts have for a long time disagreed over what is considered the right length of time to breast-feed a child in order to gain the greatest health benefits, however The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two years of breast-feeding with exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one year of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Benefits for the mother?
Breast-feeding is a very cost effective way of feeding a child, and provides the best nourishment for a child at a small nutrient cost to the mother. During breast-feeding beneficial hormones are released into the mother's body and many experts argue that the maternal bond can be strengthened.