New study states that breastfeeding can protect the mom’s brain later in life
Everyone knows about the health benefits babies receive when they are breastfed, and the short-term benefits that moms experience while they are breastfeeding, but now a new study shows that breastfeeding might have long-term benefits for the mother’s brain too; benefits that linger years after your children are grown because breastfeeding might make your brain smarter later in life. Here’s to feeding your child and being able to do geometry after 50!
A new study by UCLA Health learned that women over age 50 who breastfed their babies performed better on cognitive tests than women who never breastfed.
“While many studies have found that breastfeeding improves a child’s long-term health and well-being, our study is one of very few that has looked at the long-term health effects for women who had breastfed their babies,” Molly Fox, lead author of the study published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, said in a statement.
The key is that breastfeeding may be ‘neuroprotective’ later in life.
“Our findings, which show superior cognitive performance among women over 50 who had breastfed, suggest that breastfeeding may be neuroprotective’ later in life,” Fox added. The cognitive tests that the women over 50 participated in measured learning, delayed recall, executive functioning, and processing speed.
The study pointed out that breastfeeding has already been linked to a lower risk of diseases such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease, which are two diseases that are strongly connected to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease later in life. So not only does breastfeeding decrease the risk to two diseases that can often predict Alzheimer’s disease, but breastfeeding also seems to protect women’s brains, in general. Breastfeeding seems to be a brain booster all around.
“Because breastfeeding has also been found to help regulate stress, promote infant bonding and lower the risk of post-partum depression, which suggest acute neurocognitive benefits for the mother, we suspected that it could also be associated with long-term superior cognitive performance for the mother as well,” added Dr. Fox.
Also, women who had breastfed the longest had the highest cognitive test scores.
The study looked at 115 women volunteers and the researchers state that more intel is needed on larger and more geographically diverse groups of women. Regardless, it’s great news for moms who breastfed. Hopefully, this new study doesn’t give mommy shamers more license to come up with reasons why new moms **really should be breastfeeding** (insert eye roll here), because brain health in moms or not, fed is best!