Study finds no long-term cognitive benefit to breastfeeding

Research confirms the truth.

April 05 2023

That said, the results of a new study found no difference in cognitive development between breastfed and bottle fed children. 

“We weren’t able to find a direct causal link between breastfeeding and children’s cognitive outcomes,” study author Lisa-Christine Girard, a researcher at University College Dublin, told NPR.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, involved almost 8,000 children in Ireland who were born full-term. Researchers collected data measuring their vocabulary and cognitive skill at 9 months, three years and five years.

While children who were breastfed until at least six months appeared to be less hyperactive by three years old, this levelled out by the time they turned five.

Speaking to The Independent, Girard said previous research may have been influenced by socio-economic factors.

"There’s a certain profile of mothers in developed countries who engage in breastfeeding behaviour," she said. "So it’s important to tease that apart and understand the direct link - if there is one."

Girard added: "We didn’t find any statistically significant differences between children who were breastfed and those who weren’t, in terms of their cognitive ability and language.

“We did find a direct effect of breastfeeding on a reduction in hyperactive behaviours when the children were three years old. This wasn’t found at five years, suggesting there may be other factors that are more influential as children develop.”