A proud Jewish mother was pushing her two young children down the sidewalk in a double stroller. Along the way she met a friend who commented on how the woman’s kids were really growing. The lady then asked how old they were and the mom replied, “The doctor is three and the lawyer is two.”
I mention this because for many years it has been known that in general, breast-fed babies turn out to be better off physically than do bottle-fed babies. But is the same true mentally? Do babies who are breast-fed also turn out to be smarter than babies who are bottle-fed? We now have the answer and it appears to be yes.
Back in 1982, medical researchers gathered the names of 6,000 first-time mothers: 3,000 who were going to breast-feed and 3,000 who were going to bottle-feed. (The moms were purposely chosen from a wide range of differences: economic, racial, academic, etc.) They then tracked these children for the next 30 years to compare their intelligence and their income. The results were clear: breast-fed babies on average scored higher in intelligence tests and had greater incomes than those of the bottle-fed group. And among the breast-fed ones themselves, the longer they were nourished this way the higher the grades and the more the salary.
Now what makes this so? Why when it comes to the brain that breast milk is so much better than bottle milk? The answer lies in the fat and in the sugar.
● Smarter Fat – When it comes to milk, the breast contains the highest concentration of naturally occurring fat. These fat cells are the elite when it comes to brain construction (which is composed of 60% fat). As has been well said, a low-fat/low-cholesterol diet may be good news for adults, but it is not so for babies.
● Smarter Sugar – When it comes to milk, the breast contains the highest concentration of naturally occurring sugar. These lactose cells are the elite when it comes to providing energy for the brain’s operation. As has been discovered, the smarter the mammal the higher amount of lactose you will find in the mother’s milk.
● Smarter Connection – During the first two years of an infant’s life the brain grows rapidly (doubles in size) and it is the baby’s everyday experiences that determine the quality of such growth. Neurons multiply and connect with each other until the brain’s circuitry resembles miles of tangled electrical wires and each time a baby interacts with its environment one of these new connections is made. And because breast milk is digested faster than bottle milk – babies feed more often and so interact with their mothers more often and so make new brain connections more often. It is simply nature’s way of making sure that the little one is getting the stimulation it needs for optimal brain development.
The bottom line? While breast-feeding may not be the best choice for every parent, it certainly is the best choice for every baby. The Bible says in Luke 11:27,