How long you breastfeed can affect your teen’s test scores

Breastfeeding babies and how long they breastfeed can have an impact on school test scores, according to new research.

study, Published in Archives of Disease in ChildhoodThe study followed about 5,000 British children from infancy through their last year of secondary school in the early 2000s, says the study’s lead author Renee Pereira-Elias, a doctoral student and researcher at the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit. England.

Children were divided into groups based on how long they had been breastfed: no breastfeeding, a few months, or a year or more. The researchers compared the children’s test scores in their final years of middle school.

The team found little improvement in test scores associated with prolonged breastfeeding, Pereira-Elias said.

Compared to those who were not breastfed, children who were breastfed for at least 12 months were 39% more likely to score high on math and English tests and 25% less likely to fail English tests.

But that doesn’t mean all families should breastfeed their babies, Pereira-Elias said.

She emphasized that not all families are able to breastfeed, and those who don’t should not feel ashamed or guilty that they may be harming their children.

The analysis is careful and particularly robust given the sample size, said Kevin McEnvey, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University in England.

McEnaway was not involved in the investigation.

“While the results are certainly interesting, there are limitations that inevitably arise in research using observational data from large cohort studies,” McEnvey said.

The link between breastfeeding and test results

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McEnvey noted that the study was observational, meaning it followed people’s behavior rather than randomly assigning the behavior in question.

As a result, the results show only an association between breastfeeding and test scores – not causation.

“It’s impossible to say for sure what causes it,” he admits.

In England, mothers of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to breastfeed their babies, and children are more likely to do better in school, McEnvey said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that breastfeeding makes children do better in school – it could be some other aspect of the family being relatively well off,” she added.

Breastfeeding may make children do better on tests, but another independent factor may affect both a child’s chances of breastfeeding and doing well on tests, McEnvey pointed out.

The researchers tried to control for many factors, such as the mother’s cognitive ability, but they couldn’t account for all of them in an observational study, Pereira-Elias explained.

“There may be some confounding factors,” he said. “We did what we could.”

Benefits of Breastfeeding

The study highlighted one of the many potential benefits of breast milk, said Andrew Whitelaw, emeritus professor of neonatal medicine at the University of Bristol in England. White was not involved in the investigation.

The difference the study showed was modest, Pereira-Elias added, meaning it didn’t make a big enough difference in test scores that parents should worry about, Pereira-Elias argued.

The bottom line, she said, is that families should be encouraged to breastfeed in general because there are many potential benefits, but it may not be best for every family.

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More studies need to be done to confirm the results — especially taking into account variables within families, Pereira-Elias stressed.

“Although these questions have been around for almost a century, we still don’t have a definitive answer,” he lamented.

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