Breastfeeding: Benefits for development

According to a recent study from Greece, the length of time a baby is breastfed may increase his or her motor, language and thinking skills. We asked Le Bonheur Lactation Consultant Ruth Munday to weigh in below.

These research results do not provide absolute proof that breastfeeding is the reason for the improved outcomes, but it does show a strong association between the two. Children who were breastfed for any length of time had higher test scores than then children who were not breastfed. The average score difference was about seven points higher for those who had breastfed for more than six months.

If such a link is true, more support needs to be provided for mothers to encourage them in meeting their breastfeeding goals and sustaining their milk supply. More than half of mothers in the United States initiate breastfeeding, but by the time the baby is 4 months old, only 30 percent continue to breastfeed. Returning to work is one of the biggest challenges that often cause a mother to stop breastfeeding or pumping. Mothers should be empowered to seek lactation assistance to develop a plan for how to maintain their milk supply when away from their baby so that their infants can continue to receive the benefits of breastmilk for as long as mother and baby mutually desire.

Benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • Boosts ability to fight off infections
  • Decreased risk of diarrhea and colic
  • Decreased risk of allergies and ear infections
  • Decreased risk of diabetes and obesity
  • Promotes brain development and may increase IQ

Ruth Munday, RN

Ruth Munday has been employed at Le Bonheur for more than 15 years as a board-certified pediatric nurse. In 2006, she joined the Department of Clinical Nutrition as Le Bonheur’s first full-time international board-certified lactation consultant. Ruth has helped increase the use of human milk in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and strives to provide lactation support as needed to mothers and babies hospital wide.
infant, newborn, development