Studies have shown the many benefits of breastfeeding, but a new study conducted by researchers from Brazil gives another motivating reason why mothers should breastfeed their babies. Findings of the new research have shown that breastfed babies were more likely to be successful in life.

For the new study published in the Lancet Global Health journal, Bernardo Lessa Horta from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, together with colleagues, followed nearly 6,000 babies for the past 30 years to know the long-term effects of breastfeeding.

They found that the babies who were breastfed were better educated, more intelligent and earned more compared with their counterparts who were not breastfed. They likewise found that the longer the participants were breastfed, the better were the benefits.

The IQ of the children who were breastfed for 12 months was found to be four points higher than the IQ of those who were only breastfed for less than one month. They also spent nearly a year more in school and have earnings about a third more than the average income level.

"Breastfeeding is associated with improved performance in intelligence tests 30 years later, and might have an important effect in real life, by increasing educational attainment and income in adulthood," Horta and colleagues reported.

The researchers likewise noted that the study period started in 1982 when breastfeeding was distributed across the social classes. This means that the higher achievers of the study - by the time they reached 30 years old - did not necessarily come from better-off families.

"Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability," Horta said.

The researchers speculate that these beneficial effects of breastfeeding have something to do with the saturated fatty acids that are present in breast milk, which are crucial for the development of the brain and influences intelligence. Horta said that the amount of breast milk that a baby consumes could have a role in increasing the IQ. The social contact that the baby experiences in suckling may likewise have a potential effect.

Experts, however, said that there are other factors that can affect a child's intelligence and chances for success. While breastfeeding is beneficial, it will not necessarily translate into higher intelligence for each child.

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