Babies breast-fed for longest most likely to achieve more when they get to school

According to research reported in the Mail, children who are breast-fed for longer do better in school by the time they are five…

Assessments by teachers at the end of year one revealed that children who had been breast-fed for the longest reached the highest overall levels of achievement.

Importantly, the teachers making the assessments were not aware whether the children had been given mainly breast milk or formula milk.

The research, published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, involved 5,489 children in England.

When their child was nine months old, mothers were asked about their breastfeeding habits.

Two thirds of children had been breast-fed at some stage, 32 per cent had been breast-fed for at least four months and 16 per cent had been exclusively breast-fed for more than four months.

Their educational achievement was then measured using the Foundation Stage Profile – an assessment made by teachers at the end of the first year of school, before the child reaches their fifth birthday.

Teachers rated children on 13 scales covering six areas of development, with scores based on continuous assessment throughout the year.

Half of all children in the study reached the expected standard of achievement for their age – but the figure was only 37 per cent for children who had never been breast-fed.

It was 49 per cent for those breast-fed for under two months, 56 per cent for those breast-fed for between two and four months and 60 per cent for those who were breast-fed for four months or more.

The results were then adjusted to take into account factors such as the mother’s educational level, their socioeconomic status and their childcare arrangements. 

Children breast-fed for up to two months were 9 per cent more likely to have reached a good level of overall achievement than children who had never been breast-fed.

Those breast-fed for between two and four months were 17 per cent more likely to have a good level of overall achievement and the effect was similar in children breast-fed for more than four months.

The researchers, from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, said the study proved that breastfeeding children for longer periods could improve their performance at primary school and help them develop faster.

They suggested that this was because the essential fatty acids found in breast milk can help cognitive development.

However babies not getting breast milk are more prone to infections – which could slow down their academic progress…

More at:  How babies breast-fed for longer do better in class at five: Research shows children who had two or more months of mother’s milk are 17 per cent more likely to achieve

Interesting findings – what do you make of them? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Parenting.


  1. CareersDefender

    SchoolsImprove will have to show my daughter who had a conversation with her son about stopping ‘boobie’ & is currently b feeding her 2yo

  2. SarahJLawson82

    SchoolsImprove how about on a basic level, the parents are heavily involved on every aspect of their child’s life?

  3. RebeccaJade

    SchoolsImprove itsmotherswork it’s strange, of all reasons I breastfeed, this isn’t one of them. I don’t really like this as a ‘reason’ 🙁

  4. MsJacksonTweets

    SchoolsImprove Mothers who breast feed for longest would also be those who take a close interest in all other aspects of their child’s life

  5. itsmotherswork

    “theprimaryhead: SchoolsImprove Could be a more cost effective way of providing free school meals for all infant pupils?” << Best answer.

  6. CarolElizabeth

    In truth most women could breast feed but it often requires persistence or a change in life style to make it happen. Even mothers who go back to work early can breast feed using modern breast feeding pumps. However there is inadequate support for mothers who choose to breast feed to help them take this route. Many give up before they have even started as the first few weeks can be tough.

  7. ChipolJoJo

    SchoolsImprove Or just maybe children who were breast fed for longer had mums at home for longer? More one to one attention?

  8. liztmitchell

    itsmotherswork SchoolsImprove agreed, my 1st was a nightmare, had more luck with the 2nd and 3rd has bm & formula. All babies unique!

  9. itsmotherswork

    liztmitchell I’m massively pro-breastfeeding but not much makes me more furious than beating women up about their choices.

  10. itsmotherswork

    liztmitchell In fact the one thing that does make me more furious is beating them up about the stuff they can’t choose.

  11. kayajs24

    SchoolsImprove sad that women are being made to feel guilty about making certain choices. Some ppl need 2 get off the moral high ground

  12. Julessn

    kayajs24 Should we not make people who smoke feel guilty then either? Smoking and not breastfeeding – both have health consequences.

  13. kayajs24

    Julessn That is a ridiculous comparison. The health consequences of both are worlds apart for gods sake. One kills, one doesn’t. Simple.

  14. kayajs24

    Julessn Because babies choose to inhale 2nd half smoke? I lost interest in your ‘point’ when you compared feeding formula with smoking.

  15. Julessn

    kayajs24 It’s not actually possible to “make” someone feel guilty. The guilt comes from a poor choice when better ones were available.

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