The intelligence of your child will not be boosted by enriching formula milk! Study finds that school exam results for all children, regardless of whether they were given standard or modified formula milk as babies, are identical.

  • Scientists examined the results of exams taken by children aged 11-16 years old.
  • As babies, some children were given the standard formula.
  • Some formulas were enriched with iron and other nutrients.
  • There was no significant difference between groups in scores on the exams.  

New research has shown that infants who are given enriched formula milk won’t be smarter than their parents.

University College London (UCL), analysed exam results for children aged 11-16 years and compared them to formula milk that they received as infants.

These results showed that the exam results for all children were equal regardless of whether they had received standard or enriched milk.

The British Medical Journal published the following study: “Differences between standard and modified formulas for academic performance were consistent with those measured in original trials and external literature. There was no benefit to infant formula modification on cognitive outcomes.”

Giving babies enriched formula milk will not make them smarter, a new study has revealed (stock image)

A new study shows that giving babies formula-enriched milk does not improve their intelligence. (stock photo)

Different types of formula milk 

Formula milk is sometimes called baby formula. 

You can choose to make your own formula or use a pre-mixed liquid.

Ready-to-feed liquid formula is convenient but can also be expensive. Once opened, the formula must be used quickly.

The formula milk gives babies the nutrition they need for growth and development. 

It does not offer the same benefits for your baby as breastmilk. It cannot, for example, protect your baby against infections.

Source: NHS 

Breastfeeding is the best option for infant nutrition. However, infant formulas are often preferred by parents. These formulas contain cows milk which has been modified to be more appropriate for babies.

Research has shown that formula milk modifications with more proteins, carbs or fats can promote brain development.

Researchers analysed data from 7 randomised controlled trials in England that took place between 1993-2001 and involved 1,763 teens.

These two trials were conducted with children who received formula milk enriched in a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), a component of breast milk that is known to have a positive effect on brain development.

Meanwhile, one tested added iron, two tested added macronutrients, and two tested formulas with added sn-2 palmitate or nucleotides – all of which are not thought to relate to cognition.

These trial data were used by researchers to determine if the formula children ate affected how they did in maths or English at the ages of 11 and 16. 

Results were collected for 1,607 people.

The team did not find any benefit to children if they used any modified formula in their maths performance at 16 years old.

While breastfeeding is best for infant nutrition, many parents opt for infant formulas - cows' milk that has been treated to make it more suitable for babies

Breastfeeding is the best option for infant nutrition. However, infant formulas are popular among parents. These are cows milk products that have been modified to be more appropriate for infants.

The scores of English at 16 and maths at 11 years old were the same for children given standard formulas as well as formulas with iron, sn-2 Palmitate, or nucleotide formulations.

Children who were given the LCPUFA formula supplemented formula at 11 years of age scored less in English and maths.

“Why LCPUFA Supplemented Infant Formula might adversely effect academic performance is not clear,” the team stated. 

Team members highlight that these trials took place over a century ago and that formulae have evolved since then. 

According to experts, today there is a greater number of small and sick preterm babies that survive. They could also have different reactions to the enriched formulas.    

The team hopes that the results will inspire better communication about infant formulas.  

Researchers at the University of Glasgow wrote in a related editorial: “Recently published evidence indicates a need for better regulation of research into infant formulas, to ensure this evidence is used as a means to remove potentially harmful and unnecessary nutrients from formula milk and to avoid misleading promotional claims.” 


Breastfeeding is encouraged by mothers to ensure that their babies get the best nutrition possible.

Many parents struggle to pay the cost of bottle-feeding a newborn baby.

A formula milk provider may also determine the levels of nutrients in their product.

Babies often have difficulty digesting this food.

But, formula-fed babies may not be getting enough vitamin D. Mothers who give supplements or drops to their children might still have problems.

Breastfeeding is often mistakenly believed to give babies enough nutrients, according to Dr. Carol Wagner of Medical University of South Carolina.