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August 21, 2002

Breastfeeding and Later Intelligence

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;288(7):828-830. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.828

To the Editor: As a third-year medical student looking forward to balancing a career as a physician and a mother, I read with interest the study by Dr Mortensen and colleagues,1 who conclude that "independent of a wide range of possible confounding factors, [there is] a significant positive association between duration of breastfeeding and intelligence." However, it remains unclear whether this effect is related to the physiological properties of breast milk or to the nurturing psychological experience for the infant of being breastfed. It would be helpful to compare breastfed infants with infants held by a primary caregiver who bottle-feeds expressed breast milk. These groups could be compared with infants held by a primary caregiver who bottle-feeds formula and with infants who are not held while bottle-fed expressed breast milk (more developed infants can be leaned near a propped-up bottle and learn to suck).