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Breastfeeding and language development

A very important study began in Perth, Western Australia, 10 years ago. Researchers from the Center for Child Health Research monitored 2868 infants from birth. Their method of feeding was recorded over the course of time, and the children were divided into four groups: those who didn’t breastfeed at all, those who breastfed for less than 4 months, those who breastfed for 4 to 6 months, and finally the infants who breastfed for more than 6 months.

The children were evaluated for their language ability at the ages of five and ten years. The results were statistically adjusted according to socio-economic, obstetric, and psychosocial parameters.

The analysis showed that there was a strong positive correlation between the duration of breastfeeding and the performance in the test of language ability. Specifically, the study concluded that the children, who had breastfed for more than 6 months, had, on a scale of 100, scored an average of 3.5 units higher at the age of 5 years, and of 4 units higher at the age of 10 years, compared to the children who had not breastfed at all.

The Australian scientists concluded that longterm breastfeeding has a positive and statistically independent effect on language development the ability to speak of children of school age.

 

Source: Whitehouse AJ et al. Duration of breast feeding and language ability in middle childhood. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2011; 25(1):44-52

 

Stelios Papaventsis MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2011

 

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