LLLI Center for Breastfeeding Information
BORN TO LEARN
Supplementary regression analyses examining the strength of the relationship between duration of breastfeeding and cognitive development showed a small but significant relationship between duration of breastfeeding and scores on the Mental Development Index of the Bayley Scales at 1 and 2 years.
Morrow-Tlucak, M. et al. Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first 2 years of life. Soc Sci Med 1988
In 771 low birthweight infants, babies whose mothers chose to provide breast milk had an 8 point advantage in mean Bayley Mental Developmental index over infants of mothers choosing not to do so.
Morley R. et al. Mother's choice to provide breast milk and developmental outcome. Arch Dis Child 1988
Children who had consumed mother's milk by tube in the early weeks of life had a significantly higher IQ at 7-1/2 to 8 years than did those who received no maternal milk, even after adjustment for differences between groups in mother's education and social class.
Lucas, A. et al. Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992;339:261-62
There were statistically significant but small increases in scores among breastfed children at all time points from 2 years through 5 years.
Rogan, W. et al. Breastfeeding and cognitive development. Early Hum Dev 1993;31:181-93
Preterm children fed unsupplemented donor milk are substantially advantaged in their psychomotor and mental development at 18 months compared with those fed a standard term formula and were not disadvantaged compared with those fed a nutrient enriched preterm formula.
Lucas, A. et al. A randomised multicentre study of human milk versus formula and later development in preterm infants. Arch Dis Child 1994;70:F141-F146
Some aspects of intellectual attainment at five and ten years of age can be demonstrated to be superior among children who were exclusively breastfed for at least three months compared with their bottle-fed counter-parts.
Pollock, J.I. Long-term associations with infant feeding in a clinically advantaged population of babies. Dev Med Child Neurol 1994;36(5):429-40
After adjustment for obstetric, perinatal, neonatal neurological, and social differences, a small advantageous effect of exclusive breastfeeding for at least three weeks on neurological status at 9 years of age was found (odds ratio for neurological non-normality 0.54).
Lanting, C.I. et al. Neurological differences between 9-year-old children fed breast-milk or formula-milk as babies. Lancet 1994;344:1319-22
Children who breastfed for more than 9 months were at significantly less risk of specific language impairment than those breastfed less than 9 months.
Tomblin, J.B. et al. Epidemiology of specific language impairment: prenatal and perinatal risk factors. J Commun Disord 1997;30(4):325-44
Pervasive advantages among infants breastfed more than eight months were found in children who achieved higher IQs at eight and nine years, improved reading comprehension, mathematical, and scholastic ability from 10 to 13 years, and higher academic outcomes in high school.
Horwood, L.J., Breastfeeding and later cognitive and academic outcomes. Pediatrics 1998;101(1)e9
In preterm infants, small improvements in IQ and neurologic function could have a much greater effect.
Reynolds A. The evidence for breastfeeding: Breastfeeding and brain development. Ped Clin NA 01-2;48(1):159-71
Dietary effects were most prominent for the development of language and most notably among males. Cognitive ability can be permanently impaired by suboptimal nutrition in infancy.
Lucas, A. et al. Randomized trial of early diet in preterm babies and later intelligence quotient. BMJ 1998;317(171):1481-87
Breastfeeding, in itself, improves the mother-child relationship and the infant's stimulation, and provides optimum nutrition in an especially important and vulnerable phase of the infant's intellectual development. Breastfeeding acts as a protective mechanism for the mother and child in an adverse environment.
Temboury MC et al. Influence of breast-feeding on the infant's intellectual development. J Ped Gastro Nutr 94;18:32-36
In the analysis of 20 studies which compared cognitive development, it was determined that breastfeeding was associated with significantly higher scores than artificial feeding, and the benefit was strongest for children of low birth weight. The developmental achievements persist at least through adolescence.
Anderson, J.W. et al. Breast-feeding and cognitive development: A meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:525-35
Increasing duration of breast milk feeding was associated with increases in both verbal IQ (p<0.001) and performance IQ (p<0.05): children breast fed for eight months or longer had mean (SD) verbal IQ scores that were 10.2 (0.56) points higher and performance IQ scores that were 6.2 (0.35) points higher than children who did not receive breast milk. After controlling for confounding, there remained a significant association between duration of breast milk feeding and long term benefits for child cognitive development.
Horwood LJ et al. Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2001;84:F23-F27
Controlling for environmental variables and maternal intelligence, initiation of breastfeeding predicted scores on intelligence tests at three. Breastfeeding was associated with 4.6 point higher mean in children's intelligence.
Johnson DL et al. Breastfeeding and children's intelligence. Psych Reports 1996;79:1179-85
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 (up to 6 points higher).
Mortensen EL et al. The association between duration of breastfeeding and adult intelligence. JAMA 02-5-8;287(18):2365-71
Compiled by Carol Huotari IBCLC, Manager
Center for Breastfeeding Information
Department of Education
La Leche League International