Research questions link between breastfeeding and child intelligence

A study in the BMJ has shown that breastfeeding has little or no effect on a child's intelligence.

Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding
The relationship between breastfeeding and intelligence has been studied since 1929, but the link has remained unclear. Many of the studies have also failed to take in to account other confounding factors such as maternal intelligence.

The researchers of this new study, which was the largest ever and involved 5,475 children and their mothers in the USA, re-examined the effect of breastfeeding whilst taking into account the IQ of the mothers. Comparison was also made between siblings within the sample who were not breastfed.

When taken in isolation, the results of the study seemed to indicate that breastfeeding had a beneficial effect on the child’s intelligence. However, when other factors were considered – maternal intelligence, home environment and socio-economic status - breastfeeding made less than half a point difference to the children’s intelligence scores.

Re-analysis of the data with maternal intelligence omitted showed that the effects of breastfeeding were at least double. This result highlighted that failing to take in to account the mother’s intelligence can overestimate the effects of breastfeeding.

The authors emphasise that breastfeeding remains important for healthy growth and development in infants, and has advantages for the mother and the child.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Sign outside BMA House

GP suicide sparks calls for measures to protect doctors from spiraling workloads

The government and policymakers must do more to safeguard doctors and NHS staff from...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Living with long COVID

In August we’re bringing you some of the best interviews from series one of the podcast....

NHS sign outside a building

Surrey GP took her own life after her job 'became overwhelming'

A Surrey GP, described as a 'dedicated, passionate and much loved' doctor, has taken...

Jeremy Hunt

Hunt tells Tory leadership hopefuls to halt pension tax charges on doctors now

Former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for an immediate suspension...

GP in consulting room

GPs forced to prescribe antidepressants to young people denied mental health support

GPs are being forced to prescribe antidepressants to children and young people who...

Smartphone

Babylon accounts cast doubt on future of GP at Hand

NHS GP services for more than 100,000 patients registered with the controversial...