Children who were breastfed exclusively for at least three months had better intelligence scores later in life than those who received formula.
Breastfed children were seen to have better results in verbal, non- verbal and overall intelligence tests and significantly higher academic ratings in reading and writing at the age of six than those who received formula.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund promote breastfeeding because it is cheaper, more convenient and may be healthier and better for cognitive development. The study's findings confirm results from other research that has suggested a positive effect of breastfeeding on intelligence.

This trial has also shown that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding improves children's cognitive development. Over 17,046 healthy breastfed infants had been looked and followed up at the age of 6.5 years. The researchers studied IQ scores and evaluated the children’s performance in reading, writing and mathematics.

Children who were breastfed scored 7.5 points higher on verbal intelligence scores, 2.9 points higher on non-verbal intelligence scores and 5.9 points higher on tests measuring overall intelligence. The only obstacle that is limiting the study is the fact that the researchers don't know whether the positive effect on intelligence scores comes from breastfeeding or from characteristics of the mothers who are more likely to nurse as they didn't include the cognitive abilities of the parents.

The researchers couldn’t also say whether the benefits of breastfeeding are because of some constituent of breast milk such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids or if they are related to the physical and social interactions inherent in breastfeeding.

The good thing is that the number of mothers who are breastfeeding has increased substantially over the last 30 years although much less progress has been made in increasing the exclusivity and duration of the practice.