According to a new British study breastfeeding when it is combined with certain genes can enhance the IQ of children.
The researchers found that children with one version of the FADS2 gene scored seven points higher on IQ tests if they were breastfed as compared to those who did not have the gene.
The gene is inherited from both the mother's and father's side
There are two versions of the FADS2 gene, C and G and scientists have found that children inherit either two of the C version, one each of C and G, or two of the G version.
It is the C version of the FADS2 gene which is linked to a more efficient processing of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in breast milk.
Experts say this may help in the development and function of the brain as it was found that children with the C version of the gene averaged slightly higher IQ scores when breastfed as babies than those who were not breastfed.
However breastfeeding had no effect on children with two of the G version of the gene.
The scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London used data from two previous long-term studies of breast-fed infants in Britain and New Zealand in their study which involved more than 3,000 children.
In the New Zealand study, 57% of the children were breast-fed and IQ scores ranged from 55 to 147. A total of 48% of the UK children were breastfed. Their IQ scores ranged from 52 to 145.
The children's IQ was measured at various points between the ages of five and 13 years for the studies.
The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.