The findings of a new study, published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, suggest that breastfeeding may have a positive impact on the cognitive performance of postmenopausal women and could have long-term benefits for the mother’s brain.
Thus, women over 50 who had breastfed their babies performed better on cognitive tests compared to women who had never breastfed.
Breastfeeding can be ‘neuroprotective’
Many studies also show that phases of a woman’s reproductive life history, such as menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, may be linked to a higher or lower risk of developing various health conditions such as depression or breast cancer. mother; Nevertheless, few studies have examined breastfeeding and its impact on women’s long-term cognition.
While many studies have found that breastfeeding improves a child’s long-term health and well-being, this new study is one of the few that has looked at the long-term health effects of women who breastfed their babies. .
To find out, the researchers analyzed data collected from women who participated in two 12-week cross-sectional randomized controlled clinical trials at UCLA Health. Between the two trials, 115 women chose to participate, 64 identified as depressed and 51 not depressed. All participants completed a comprehensive battery of psychological tests that measure learning, memory delay, executive functioning, and processing speed.
They also answered a questionnaire about their reproductive life history that included questions about the age at which they started menstruating, the number of complete and incomplete pregnancies, the length of time each child was breastfed, and the age of menopause.
Key findings from the researchers’ analysis of data collected from questionnaires on women’s reproductive history revealed that approximately 65% of non-depressed women reported breastfeeding, compared to 44% of depressed women.
The results of the cognitive tests also revealed that those who had breastfed, regardless of whether they were depressed or not, performed better on the four cognitive tests that measure learning, memory delay, executive functioning and processing compared to women who did not breastfeed.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that more time spent breastfeeding was associated with better cognitive performance.