For Some Reason, Maternal Intelligence Was Not Considered

For a while I've been skeptical of the magic elixir theory of breastfeeding -- the idea that, if only you pump enough breastmilk into your baby, you will secure superior health, longevity, and especially intelligence for your child.

Now a recent, large study has concluded that ingestion of breastmilk has no effect on a kid's IQ.

What matters is the mother's background, education, and social class. Strangely, earlier studies linking IQ to feeding method failed to take these things into consideration.

From the article:

Breastfed babies are smarter because their mums are clever - not because mother's milk boosts brain power, according to new research.

Scientists say many previous studies claiming breastfed babies are brighter than bottle-fed counterparts have failed to consider one important factor - maternal intelligence.

They found mothers who breastfed tended to be more intelligent, more highly educated and to provide a more stimulating home environment.

And when they compared siblings where one had been breastfed and the other not there was no difference in their respective IQs - showing the key to brainbox children is the mum and not the milk.

In the largest study of its kind researchers looked at 5,475 children in the US - and their mothers - and found omitting mothers' intelligence can "seriously over-estimate the effects of breastfeeding."

The researchers from the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh said their findings showed when considered in isolation breastfeeding did appear to have a beneficial effect on a child's intelligence.

But once other factors were considered – including maternal intelligence, home environment and socio-economic status - breastfeeding made less than half a point difference to children's intelligence scores.