Babies who are breastfed until six months of age are less likely to suffer behavioural problems when they grow up, according to new research.
The study suggests breast really is best when it comes to early-age learning as children aged seven to 11-years-old are less likely to misbehave if they were breastfed as babies.
Children breastfed for six months were half as likely to suffer behavioural problems than those breastfed for less than one month, according to the research published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
The discovery could better inform parents on developing smart, social children who make better decisions in life, according to experts.
More than 1,500 children in South Africa were assessed including 900 that had been involved in an early infant feeding study.
Dr Tamsen Rochat, of the Human Science Research Council in South Africa, said: “The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realized in several areas of development.
“For example, childhood onset conduct disorders can lead to aggressive or disruptive behaviours, which interfere with learning and peer relationships, in turn leading to low self-esteem and further behavioural problems.
“Conduct disorders that start in childhood and persist into the teen years are associated with an increase in antisocial (and potentially violent or criminal) behaviours, poor long-term mental health and low academic achievement in later life.”
Dr Peter Singer, chief executive of Grand Challenges Canada which funded the study, said: “This study show how who parents can help develop smart, social kids who make good decisions: breastfeed babies.”