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Breastfeeding and IQ Growth from Toddlerhood through Adolescence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sophie Von Stumm, Robert Plomin, Jakob Pietschnig (Editor)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0138676
JournalPL o S One
Volume10
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2015

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Abstract

Objectives

The benefits of breastfeeding for cognitive development continue to be hotly debated but are yet to be supported by conclusive empirical evidence.

Methods

We used here a latent growth curve modeling approach to test the association of breastfeeding with IQ growth trajectories, which allows differentiating the variance in the IQ starting point in early life from variance in IQ gains that occur later in childhood through adolescence. Breastfeeding (yes/ no) was modeled as a direct predictor of three IQ latent growth factors (i.e. intercept, slope and quadratic term) and adjusted for the covariates socioeconomic status, mother's age at birth and gestational stage. Data came from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), a prospective cohort study of twins born between 1996 and 1994 in the United Kingdom, who were assessed 9 times on IQ between age 2 and 16 years (N = 11,582).

Results

Having been breastfed was associated with a small yet significant advantage in IQ at age 2 in girls (β = .07, CI 95% from 0.64 to 3.01; N = 3,035) but not in boys (β = .04, CI 95% from -0.14 to 2.41). Having been breastfeeding was neither associated with the other IQ growth factors in girls (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.25 to 0.43; quadratic: β = .01, CI 95% from -0.02 to 0.02) nor in boys (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.30 to 0.47; quadratic: β = -.01, CI 95% from -0.01 to 0.01).

Conclusions

Breastfeeding has little benefit for early life intelligence and cognitive growth from toddlerhood through adolescence.

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