WASHINGTON (CBS) — Among multiple studies that encourage parents to feed their babies healthy food comes yet another reason to set aside the junk food: A higher IQ.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia looked into the data of a child’s early eating habits at six months, 15 months, and two years of age. And then conducted a follow-up test of IQ at the age of eight that found there is a correlation between a child’s diet and their IQ.

The study of more than 7000 children compared a range of dietary patterns, including traditional and contemporary home-prepared food, ready-prepared baby foods, breastfeeding, and ‘discretionary’ or junk foods.

“Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life, and the aim of this study was to look at what impact diet would have on children’s IQs,” said Dr. Lisa Smithers, study author and researcher at the University of Adelaide, in a statement within the study. “We found that children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight.”

Dr Smithers’ team also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months.

“Those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, sweets, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight,” she stated in the study.

Researchers said that the finders only bolster the need to feed your baby a healthy diet, especially during such a formative time in their life.

“While the differences in IQ are not huge, this study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that the dietary patterns from six to 24 months have a small but significant effect on IQ at eight years of age. It is important that we consider the longer-term impact of the foods we feed our children,” Dr. Smithers concluded.


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