(HealthDay News) – Breastfeeding duration is associated with receptive language at age 3 and intelligence at age 7, according to a study published online July 29 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Mandy B. Belfort, MD, MPH, from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues examined the correlations between breastfeeding duration and exclusivity and child cognition at ages 3 and 7, and assessed whether maternal fish consumption modifies these associations. Data were collected from 1,312 mothers and children from a prospective cohort study that enrolled mothers from April 1999 through July 2002 and followed the children to age 7.

The researchers found that longer breastfeeding duration correlated with higher Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test score at age 3 years and with higher intelligence on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test at age 7 years, after adjustment for sociodemographics, maternal intelligence, and home environment. There was no correlation between breastfeeding duration and Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning scores. Greater beneficial effects of breastfeeding were noted on the Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities at age 3 years for women who consumed ≥2 servings of fish per week vs. <2 servings.

“In summary, our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding in infancy with receptive language at age 3 and with verbal and nonverbal IQ at school age,” the authors write. “These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age 6 months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least age 1 year.”

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