Ok, But Diarrhea and Eczema Really Suck
This leaves us with a small but informative set of studies. In the first camp -- the randomized trial camp -- we have one very large-scale study from Belarus. Known as the PROBIT trial, it was run in the 1990s and continued to follow up as the children aged.1 The study randomized women into two groups, one in which breastfeeding was encouraged and another in which it wasn't, and found that the encouragement treatment increased breastfeeding rates. The trial has studied all sorts of outcomes, including infant and child health and cognitive development.
Infants in the treatment group -- who, remember, were more likely to be breastfed -- had fewer gastrointestinal infections (read: less diarrhea) and were less likely to experience eczema and other rashes. However, there were no significant differences in any of the other outcomes considered. These include: respiratory infections, ear infections, croup, wheezing and infant mortality.
In other words, the evidence suggests that breastfeeding may slightly decrease your infant's chance of diarrhea and eczema but will not change the rate at which he gets colds or ear infections and will not prevent death.
So, you know, mom...mebbe you could try to breastfeed just a little? Think of all the laundry you could be saving yourself without all that messy diarrhea happening. Also, i would like to point out that rashes are no fun. I have cortisone cream stashed all over my house for just in case i get itchy.
Sadly, it there's no proof that breastfeeding makes you smarter, either, so quit your mom-shaming, people!
First, researchers looked at all the kids in the study. For this sample, the evaluation of IQ was done by evaluators who knew whether or not a child was in the breastfeeding-encouraged treatment group. There were no significant effects of breastfeeding on overall IQ. In addition, breastfeeding had no effect on teachers' evaluation of the children's school performance. But the researchers observed large effects of breastfeeding on verbal IQ.
Although, really, i feel a lot better now because i wasn't breastfed and i had been all sad about my missed potential. Now i can rest assured that i didn't actually have any potential to lose. Woot!