How long a child is breastfed could affect their test scores later on, according to new research.
A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal followed approximately 5,000 people in England born between 2000 and 2002. It evaluated their different breastfeeding durations and school results at age 16.
The children who were breastfed longer were associated with modest improvements in educational outcomes at age 16, according to the study authored by Reneé Pereyra-Elías, Claire Carson and Maria A. Quigley.
Specifically, children who were breastfed longer were 38% – 39% more likely to achieve higher marks and 25% less likely to fail their exams.
In terms of England’s General Certificate of Secondary Education, children with a longer breastfeeding duration were more likely to have a high pass in their English and Math GCSEs, and less likely to fail the English GCSE — but were not less likely to fail the Math GCSE.
Those who were breastfed longer were also more likely to have older and more educated mothers, the study found. They were less likely to have moms identifying as White and who only spoke English at home.
But mothers who cannot breastfeed should not feel shame or guilt, said Pereyra-Elías, according to CNN. He said it would be unrealistic to expect that every mother could breastfeed.
The results of the study show the relationship between breastfeeding and academics, but not the cause.
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