Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

Breast-Feeding and Intelligence

Interesting story negating the overwhelming value of breast-feeding on a child’s eventual intelligence. Basically, there are several well-known predictors to intelligence, such as parents’ education. If you make sure the other factors are not affecting the results, that’s good science. Unfortunately, the original study did not account for the intelligence of the parents, meaning the results were tainted – the breast-feeding piece was not the only variable.

The recent study above shows that the mothers doing the breast-feeding, by and large, seem to have higher intelligence. Thankfully, the study does not ask why – that is not for scientists without empirical data to ask.

However, I do have some reasoned speculations… The question is not about the children themselves, but the parents: Why is it that the mothers choosing to breast-feed their children tend to be of higher intelligence?

Extrapolating using information I gained during my past life as a teacher (I do not have the stats on hand, unfortunately)… The most significant predictor of a child’s intelligence is the parents’ intelligence. Most significant after that is the parents’ education level. It is reasonable to assume that a better education leads to better intelligence. So education is significant. The best predictor of the education level (degrees) that a parent would get is income. So, if we extrapolate correctly:

Higher Income –> Higher Education –> Higher Intelligence

Note that these are all relative (“higher” instead of “high” ) and not absolute. This is because scientists (and I) do not know how other factors play into it, nor to what extent they do so.

Now the sociological implications: if the kids who are getting breast-fed more correlates strongly to those parents who basically have higher incomes, does that mean we have a flag for low-income folks? Being lower income typically means that both parents work, which means mothers likely have less time (or no appropriate place) to breast-feed. It seems like a logical connection. I’m not sure how this connection can be exploited if it is true, but it certainly is interesting.


Filed under: Culture, Science

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Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work by various sources, as cited.
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