The Association Between Duration of Breastfeeding and Adult Intelligence | Breastfeeding | JAMA | JAMA Network
[Skip to Navigation]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address 35.175.212.130. Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
1.
Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Remley DT. Breast-feeding and cognitive development: a meta-analysis.  Am J Clin Nutr.1999;70:525-535.Google Scholar
2.
Golding J, Rogers IS, Emmett PM. Association between breastfeeding, child development and behaviour.  Early Hum Dev.1997;49 Suppl:S175-184.Google Scholar
3.
Schuerger JM, Witt AC. The temporal stability of individually tested intelligence.  J Clin Psychol.1989;45:294-302.Google Scholar
4.
Rodgers B. Feeding in infancy and later ability and attainment: a longitudinal study.  Develop Med Child Neurol.1978;20:421-426.Google Scholar
5.
Horwood LJ, Fergusson DM. Breastfeeding and later cognitive and academic outcomes.  Pediatrics.1998;101:1-7.Google Scholar
6.
Gale CR, Martyn CN. Breastfeeding, dummy use, and adult intelligence.  Lancet.1996;347:1072-1075.Google Scholar
7.
Feldman W, Feldman ME. The intelligence on infant feeding.  Lancet.1996;347:1057.Google Scholar
8.
Mortensen EL, Høgh P. A gender difference in the association between APOE genotype and age-related cognitive decline.  Neurology.2001;57:89-95.Google Scholar
9.
Zachau-Christiansen B, Ross EM. Babies: Human Development During the First YearNew York, NY: John Wiley & Sons; 1975.
10.
Reinisch JM, Mortensen EL, Sanders SA. The prenatal development project.  Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl.1993;370:54-61.Google Scholar
11.
Wechsler D. The Measurement and Appraisal of Adult IntelligenceBaltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins; 1958.
12.
Teasdale TW, Owen DR. National secular trends in intelligence and education.  Nature.1987;325:119-121.Google Scholar
13.
Mortensen EL, Reinisch JM, Teasdale TW. Intelligence as measured by the WAIS and a military draft board group test.  Scand J Psychol.1989;30:315-318.Google Scholar
14.
Rogers IS, Emmett PM, Golding J. The growth and nutritional status of the breast-fed child.  Early Hum Dev.1997;49(suppl):157-174.Google Scholar
15.
Baker RL, Mednick BR. Influences on Development: A Longitudinal Study.  Boston, Mass: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 1984:3-16.
16.
Reinisch JM, Sanders SA, Mortensen EL, Rubin DB. In utero exposure to phenobarbital and intelligence deficits in adult men.  JAMA.1995;274:1518-1525.Google Scholar
17.
Cohen J, Cohen P. Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence A. Erlbaum Associates; 1983.
18.
Rogers IS, Emmett PM, Golding J. The incidence and duration of breastfeeding.  Early Hum Dev.1997;49(suppl):45-74.Google Scholar
19.
Jacobson SW, Jacobson JL. Breastfeeding and intelligence.  Lancet.1992;339:926.Google Scholar
20.
Fergusson DM, Beautrais AL, Silva PA. Breast-feeding and cognitive development in the first seven years of life.  Soc Sci Med.1982;16:1705-1708.Google Scholar
21.
Angelsen NK, Vik T, Jacobsen G, Bakketeig LS. Breast feeding and cognitive development at age 1 and 5 years.  Arch Dis Child.2001;85:183-188.Google Scholar
22.
McGue M, Bouchard Jr TJ, Iacono WG, Lykke DT. Behavioral genetics of cognitive ability: a life-span perspective, I. In: Plomin R, McClearn GE, eds. Nature, Nurture and Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1993:59-76.
23.
Lucas A, Morley R, Cole TJ. Randomised trial of early diet in preterm babies and later intelligence quotient.  BMJ.1998;317:1481-1487.Google Scholar
24.
Lucas A, Morley R, Cole TJ, Gore SM. A randomised multicentre study of human milk versus formula and later development in preterm infants.  Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed.1994;70:F141-F146.Google Scholar
25.
Lauritzen L, Hansen SH, Jørgensen MH, Michaelsen KF. The essentiality of long chain n-3 fatty acids in relation to development and function of the brain and retina.  Prog Lipid Res.2001;40:1-94.Google Scholar
26.
SanGiovanni JP, Parra-Cabrera S, Colditz GA, Berkey CS, Dwyer JT. Meta-analysis of dietary essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as they relate to visual resolution acuity in healthy preterm infants.  Pediatrics.2000;105:1292-1298.Google Scholar
27.
Birch EE, Garfield S, Hoffman DR, Uauy R, Birch DG. A randomized controlled trial of early dietary supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and mental development in term infants.  Dev Med Child Neurol.2000;42:174-181.Google Scholar
Original Contribution
May 8, 2002

The Association Between Duration of Breastfeeding and Adult Intelligence

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Danish Epidemiology Science Center, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark (Drs Mortensen and Reinisch); Department of Health Psychology, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (Dr Mortensen); Research Department of Human Nutrition, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark (Dr Michaelsen); The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction (Drs Sanders and Reinisch) and Gender Studies (Dr Sanders), Indiana University, Bloomington.

JAMA. 2002;287(18):2365-2371. doi:10.1001/jama.287.18.2365
Abstract

Context A number of studies suggest a positive association between breastfeeding and cognitive development in early and middle childhood. However, the only previous study that investigated the relationship between breastfeeding and intelligence in adults had several methodological shortcomings.

Objective To determine the association between duration of infant breastfeeding and intelligence in young adulthood.

Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective longitudinal birth cohort study conducted in a sample of 973 men and women and a sample of 2280 men, all of whom were born in Copenhagen, Denmark, between October 1959 and December 1961. The samples were divided into 5 categories based on duration of breastfeeding, as assessed by physician interview with mothers at a 1-year examination.

Main Outcome Measures Intelligence, assessed using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) at a mean age of 27.2 years in the mixed-sex sample and the Børge Priens Prøve (BPP) test at a mean age of 18.7 years in the all-male sample. Thirteen potential confounders were included as covariates: parental social status and education; single mother status; mother's height, age, and weight gain during pregnancy and cigarette consumption during the third trimester; number of pregnancies; estimated gestational age; birth weight; birth length; and indexes of pregnancy and delivery complications.

Results Duration of breastfeeding was associated with significantly higher scores on the Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale WAIS IQs. With regression adjustment for potential confounding factors, the mean Full Scale WAIS IQs were 99.4, 101.7, 102.3, 106.0, and 104.0 for breastfeeding durations of less than 1 month, 2 to 3 months, 4 to 6 months, 7 to 9 months, and more than 9 months, respectively (P = .003 for overall F test). The corresponding mean scores on the BPP were 38.0, 39.2, 39.9, 40.1, and 40.1 (P = .01 for overall F test).

Conclusion Independent of a wide range of possible confounding factors, a significant positive association between duration of breastfeeding and intelligence was observed in 2 independent samples of young adults, assessed with 2 different intelligence tests.

×