March was nutrition and brain health awareness month. Breastfeeding is the foundation of good nutrition. Breastmilk provides the nutrients essential for an infant's development in the first months of life. It's a unique nutritional source that cannot adequately be replaced by another food, including infant formula. Breastmilk is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Its key brain-boosting ingredients: Fat (DHA) an omega-3 fatty acid, cholesterol and lactose are only found in minute amounts in formula if not absent all together.
Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is the perfect way to provide the best nutrition for baby while optimizing brain development. Research has found that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least 3 months had enhanced developments in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed formula.
The fastest brain growth was found in white matter, 20% to 30% higher in breastfed kids. The extra growth was most pronounced in parts of the brain associated with: Language, Emotional function and Cognition. Evidence suggests that breast-fed children develop fewer psychological, behavioral and learning problems as they grow older. They also average I.Q. scores 7 to 10 points higher than formula infants.
Of course, there are no guarantees your breastfed child will win the Nobel Prize, but they will be smarter no matter where they land on the intellectual continuum.