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August 2015

Effects of Breastfeeding on Obesity and Intelligence: Causal Insights From Different Study Designs

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Population Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  • 2Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 4School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, England
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(8):707-708. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0175

Every month new studies are published on the beneficial effects of breastfeeding. In this article, we examine the effect of breastfeeding on 2 outcomes where evidence is both disparate and prolific but nevertheless crucial for public health: obesity and cognition (measured via IQ scores). The American Academy of Pediatrics claims a 30% reduction in child obesity if any breastfeeding occurred.1 In Australia, recently published dietary guidelines endorsed the beneficial effect of breastfeeding on obesity but downplayed the effect on IQ.2

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