Scores of new mothers have told us over the years that they were advised to supplement immediately, or that their milk supply wasn't rich enough, or that their milk didn't have all the vital ingredients for a developing baby.
A new report adds weight to this unspoken prejudice. It has tracked the progress of 12,686 people who were aged between 14 and 22 years when they were first interviewed in 1979. Since then, they have been interviewed annually and, more recently, biennially. And guess what? Those who were breastfed are no smarter than those who had milk substitutes as babies.
If we turn a blind eye to the very unscientific basis of the study, we're a little mystified by the purpose of the exercise. Very few mothers set out to breast feed in order to have smarter children; instead they see it as the best start for their babies, giving them immediate natural immunity.
Still, it's grist to the obstetrician's mill. As he walks away from the hospital bed, he can now say, with full scientific authority: "And another thing, Mrs Smith, breastfeeding isn't going to make your child any smarter."
These moments are precious, precious.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: 945-8).
E-news broadcast 9 November 2006 No.308 [Subscribe]