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

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

Dr Jim Brockbank from Myanmar UK GP Health Action provides an update on how the military...

GPs warn of 'open floodgates' as 84% say e-consultations have driven up workload

GPs warn of 'open floodgates' as 84% say e-consultations have driven up workload

More than four fifths of GPs say e-consultation systems adopted in the pandemic have...

Map: Which CCGs have the highest COVID-19 vaccine coverage?

Map: Which CCGs have the highest COVID-19 vaccine coverage?

Tens of millions of COVID-19 jabs have been administered across England, but how...

Podcast: Greener practice, sharing patient data and additional roles

Podcast: Greener practice, sharing patient data and additional roles

In this episode we look at data extraction from GP records, ask whether the additional...

Red flag symptoms: Loss of consciousness

Red flag symptoms: Loss of consciousness

Red flag symptoms to look out for in presentations of loss of consciousness, including...

£20m fund to speed up second jabs as CCGs told to limit pressure on practices

£20m fund to speed up second jabs as CCGs told to limit pressure on practices

NHS England has announced £20m in funding to help local COVID-19 vaccination sites...