27 December 2010

Boys Should be Breast-Fed Until at Least Age 6

Startling new research from Australia demonstrates that boys -- but not girls -- should be breast-fed until at least age 6, to achieve optimal academic performance.
Breast feeding improves later academic performance in boys but appears to have no such effect in girls.

Wendy Oddy at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Subiaco, Western Australia, and colleagues, examined whether having been breastfed affected the test scores of over 1000 10-year-olds.

Studies have suggested that children who were breastfed have higher IQs than those who were not, but few separated out boys and girls. Mothers who breastfeed are on average wealthier and more educated, so Oddy's team accounted for these factors.

Boys who were mainly breastfed for at least six months [years ... per Al Fin Nutritional Institute] scored 9 per cent higher in mathematics and writing tests, 7 per cent higher in spelling and 6 per cent higher in reading, compared with boys fed with formula milk or breastfed for shorter periods. There were no significant differences in results for girls.

"We know that breast milk contains the optimal nutrients for development of the brain and central nervous system," says Oddy, but the gender differences were surprising.
Hormone link

Oddy points out that other studies have suggested boys are more vulnerable to stress and adversity during critical periods of brain development. She speculates this could be because girls seem to be protected by higher levels of oestrogen during childhood. She says the improved academic performance of boys could be explained by oestrogen in breast milk having similar neuro-protective effects.

Some studies have suggested that fatty acids uniquely present in breast milk explain research showing that it can help babies become more intelligent. Whether or not these fatty acids help in boosting IQ may be linked to the presence of certain gene variants involved in their processing.

A large randomised trial conducted by Michael Kramer at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, concluded that prolonged breastfeeding was linked to higher IQ and academic ratings by teachers in Belarussian children at age 6... _NS

Al Fin specialists in childhood nutrition recommend that boys be breast-fed until at least age 26, if not longer. You can never be too safe when it comes to childhood nutrition. Girls, as noted, are protected by high estrogen levels. Boys -- even boys in adulthood -- are left to fend for themselves.

Research at the prestigious Al Fin Institute suggests that even simulated breastfeeding -- sucking well developed female breasts that are not lactating -- exerts a strong protective effect on the male brain, at any age.  This was a fortuitous finding, since it is much easier to find non-lactating volunteers.

More research is needed. Here at the Institute we have need of volunteers possessing nice, firm, well-developed breasts, so as to refine our earlier studies. No more males are needed, however, since we filled our quota for males within the first five minutes after announcing the study.

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Blogger neil craig said...

If it was 1,000 children that is 500 boys. I suspect the number who were breastfed to age 6 was not large enough to support statistical certainty on this.

Friday, 31 December, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Not necessarily, Neil. It all depends upon the magnitude of the difference between groups and the degree of statistical certainty which you require.

Of course, if you agree with the nutritional experts at Al Fin that men should be breastfed up to the age of 26, you will understand why far more research is needed to acquire the necessary data to prove that the benefit is lasting.

If so, then males may require regular breastfeeding up to the age of 76 and beyond.

Friday, 31 December, 2010  

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