Breastfeeding Saves Lives and Increases Cognitive Development

Breast feeding       Breastfeeding has always carried a stigma in my family and as a young teen growing up, I was never exposed to the important aspect of breastfeeding. Most of the women in my family with the exception of my grandmother did not breastfeed.  When I became pregnant for the first time in 1999, I had my reservations about breastfeeding but thanks to the birthing center in NYC that I belonged to, I was able to take a class on breastfeeding, birthing, and other great parenting tools before my first son Kai was born.  I found breastfeeding challenging especially since my first son had issues latching on, but I succeeded in providing him and later his bother Phoenix with breastmilk.  For me, it was an important bonding experience for the babies and me, a time I held precious and dear.

Image result for images of breastfeeding mothersToday breastfeeding has become much more popular and accommodating in the US.  I have seen a change in the attitudes of our culture.  Malls and other businesses like Ikea, for instance, have provided spaces by the restrooms called family rooms where mothers can breastfeed in a calm and private environment.  They provide soft rocking chairs, changing tables, soothing music and soft lighting for a very natural ambient.

Image result for images of breastfeeding mothersIn the year 2000, The Millennium Development Goals were part of a summit of the United Nations. One of their goals was to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people by working on poverty, hunger, education, and decreasing child mortality.  Preterm and low birth weight account for about 80% of neonatal deaths (Ahmed 2011).  In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, these issues are very prevalent.  However, one of the interventions and best practice to lower preterm births and low birth weight is breastfeeding.  Because of the lack of clean water in these nations, infants are likely to die from diarrheal complication due to unsafe water used for formula.  In these countries, the way to combat infant mortality is by promoting breastfeeding, reducing the distribution of formula, and creating supporting work policies so mothers get opportunities to continue pumping breastmilk while away from their babies.

Image result for breastfeeding imagesIn the US, according to Maggie Fox of NBC news (Fox 2016), 80% of mothers breastfeed but only for about one to six months.  What if they knew that breastfeeding longer could increase their children’s intelligence and their future wealth?  According to an article published by Disease in Childhood,  Gennaro explained the results of a study in Brazil during the 1980’s.  In this research, they studied 5,900 babies our of those babies they followed 3,500 of them and tested their IQ as well as their wealth at age 30. The results were convincing, those babies who were breastfed for less than one month, those babies who were breastfed for 12 months or more had significantly higher IQ’s and made more money (Gennaro 2015). In addition, a study conducted in Canada revealed that breastfeeding more than three months increased maternal sensitivity and synchrony, which in turn resulted in happier babies.

Image result for breastfeeding imagesIt is important in my profession in early childhood to be able to provide families and mothers any information that will improve their lives and the lives of their children.  For me, it is important to share this information regarding breastfeeding because I come across many young mothers who have limited access to this kind of information. It is imperative that infants get the best start in life, breastfeeding can be the answer to many neonatal and preterm deaths. Breastfeeding also benefits infants into adulthood. Breastfeeding positively impacts an infants ability to develop their cognitive abilities and increase their intelligence.  In many ways, breastfeeding is the perfect human survival practice.  Breastfeeding is more than food; it creates a bond that will last a lifetime between mother and baby.

Additional Resource:

Click to access 2953.pdf


Global Health of Babies and Children.

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 42(3):132-138, May/June 2017.

Breastfeeding: Sensitive mothers and intelligent offspring. (2015). Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(6), 601. doi:

Breastfeeding Knowledge of University Nursing Students.

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 36(6):361-367, November/December 2011.

4 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Saves Lives and Increases Cognitive Development

  1. Dear Lilyann,
    I loved this piece! Breastfeeding is defiantly better for babies than formulary and it increases the infants development, health, and intelligences. it was also a great way for my daughter and I to bond. I breastfeed for 6 months and my sister-in-law breastfeed for 1 year with her daughter and 2 years with her twin boys. I would have done this for longer but I had to return to work and my supply stopped. I think some reasons behind women choosing not to breastfeed is the need to go back to the work force and the fact that society looks down on women who feed in public area. I remember taken my daughter to the park and needing to feed her. The looks I received made me so upset, I just wanted to leave. I even covered up and still received dirty looks. Even my two older sisters were opposed to me breastfeeding in front of them. Today. I think it is crazy that I was looked at with dirty looks but celebrities who wear see through clothing or small tops and bikinis are accepted and even praised for having their breast out. I think its a true shame for what our society values and accepts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy that you had the opportunity and also had the desire to breastfeed. It is shocking and angering that people still have a negative attitude about it, in the US and other parts of the world attitudes are changing and now even in malls there are spaces for family communing at bathrooms and so forth. Many other business like IKEA for example are taking initiative to provide space for moms to breastfeed and diaper change ina relaxed environment. Rocking chairs, magazines and soothing music are also provided for moms and babies in these stations.


  2. It is very interesting that you took a different path from your family and decided to breast-feed. It is a very special bond between a mother and her child. And it is so beneficial to the baby.
    It is also interesting how the view on breast feeding has changed from a stigma to an acceptance in society

    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your family was about like mine I was never taught the importance of breastfeeding, I had my youngest at a very young age and at the time I couldn’t see myself breastfeeding. I wish I had now because I think it would have prevented her from having asthma so bad. When I had my second one I breastfeed her and she is a healthy child. I really do believe breastfeeding as a huge impact on healthy development.


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