Does drinking breast milk as opposed to formula milk have an impact on the cognitive development of a baby?

Toni Miller*
Keele University medical school, UK*
The number of mothers’ breastfeeding in the UK has risen from 76% to 81% within the last 5 years (Boseley, S 2011). This poster compares the impacts of breast milk and formula milk on the cognitive development of a baby and assesses whether one is better than the other. Some studies found that breast fed babies had a cognitive advantage but only in the early stages of life and predominantly in low birth weight babies. It could be said that the cholesterol content of breast milk is what produces the increased cognitive ability but this area is yet to be explored in detail. Results supporting the positive impact of breast milk on cognitive development were not significant beyond the age of two. An increased duration of breastfeeding has more of an impact but the mother’s IQ is the largest factor affecting cognitive ability. In conclusion the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding on cognitive development are so small that other factors should be explored when deciding what to feed a normal birth weight baby.
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