We took Gareth to see the paediatrician for his vaccinations yesterday. While waiting, I saw a free publication of a parenting magazine called “Positive Parenting” lying on the table. I was intrigued because the magazine focuses on child development and the optimisation of a child’s potential – two areas I’m intensely interested in. In that particular publication they had available, there was an article entitled “Brighter Brains with Breastfeeding”.
You may recall an earlier post I wrote about why breastfed babies are smarter which discusses the theory that it may not necessarily be the constituents of breast milk that promote brain development. It was theorised that it was the way in which breast-fed babies were handled compared to how bottled-fed babies were handled that made the difference in IQ points between breast-fed babies and bottle-fed babies.
The article in Positive Parenting, however, begs to differ. They talk about the vital nutrients in breast milk that are essential for brain development:
- breast milk contains greater levels of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids – DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid) – which have a significant role in brain development. They are important for synaptogenesis (forming of connections between brain cells), membrane function (the function of brain cell walls) and myelination (a process that speeds up communication between brain cells).
- breast milk contains high concentrations of cholesterol which facilitates myelinisation of the central nervous system.
- breast milk also contains high concentrations of taurine, an important amino acid that cannot be made by the baby’s body. Taurine is required in the development of brain tissue. It is vital for the synthesis and release of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Breastfeeding also indirectly promotes development by enabling better visual development which is important for visual activity, leading to reading and learning readiness. Breastfeeding also protects babies from illnesses that can cause malnutrition, learning and hearing difficulties.
Though the jury might still be out on why breastfed babies are smarter, the main fact still remains: breastfed babies are smarter. And until science is able to irrefutably conclude the true reasons as to why that is so, the best thing to do is to breastfeed our babies.