List of Breastfeeding Benefits Grows

06.17.09 Longer periods of nursing are tied to better high school grades, higher likelihood of going to college

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It's never too early to start thinking about your child's future, many people say. A new study suggests more breastfeeding time as an infant may help boost cognitive abilities, health and, in turn, long-term educational benefits for these children, Reuters reports.

Researchers from American University and the University of Colorado found that just one additional month of breastfeeding lead to a 0.019 high school GPA increase and a 0.014 boost in the probability of college attendance, according to Reuters.

While breastfeeding alone doesn't guarantee better scores or college attendance, researchers say that more than one-half of the estimated effect was linked to this natural source of milk. The study published in the Journal of Human Capital was based on 126 children from 59 families; because the authors compared siblings, they were able to consider the influence of other factors, such as environment and the mom's intelligence.

The abundance of good things in mother's milk offers your baby lifelong benefits—from stronger immune systems to better behavior. And don't forget mom: Nursing helps you lose your pregnancy pounds easier and there's evidence that it lowers your risk for breast cancer and heart attacks later in life.

For many moms, breastfeeding may not happen as easily as one would expect. Your baby may have trouble latching on, you may experience difficulties with milk production, or maybe you're just scared. Don't forget you can still breastfeed and have a life! Check out our secrets to breastfeeding success for more help in developing the skills you need to stick with it, especially those first six weeks! Plus we have step-by-step photos for you to follow.

If you still have doubts or questions, click over to our Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding and browse through our resources. It's your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about nursing your baby.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.

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