Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breastfeeding is Associated with Improved Child Cognitive Development: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Source: Science Direct 
Maria A. Quigley BA, MScaCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Author, Christine Hockley BAa, Claire Carson BSc, MSc, PhDa, Yvonne Kelly BSc, PhDb, Mary J. Renfrew RGN, SCM, DN, BSc, PhDc, Amanda Sacker BSc, PhDb
aNational Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
bInstitute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Essex, United Kingdom
cMother and Infant Research Unit, University of York, York, United Kingdom
Received 12 February 2011; revised 31 May 2011; Accepted 23 June 2011. Available online 11 August 2011.


To assess the association between breastfeeding and child cognitive development in term and preterm children.

Study design

We analyzed data on white singleton children from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study. Children were grouped according to breastfeeding duration. Results were stratified by gestational age at birth: 37 to 42 weeks (term, n = 11 101), and 28 to 36 weeks (preterm, n = 778). British Ability Scales tests were administered at age 5 years (naming vocabulary, pattern construction, and picture similarities subscales).


The mean scores for all subscales increased with breastfeeding duration. After adjusting for confounders, there was a significant difference in mean score between children who were breastfed and children who were never breastfed: in term children, a two-point increase in score for picture similarities (when breastfed ≥4 months) and naming vocabulary (when breastfed ≥6 months); in preterm children, a 4-point increase for naming vocabulary (when breastfed ≥4 months) and picture similarities (when breastfed ≥2 months) and a 6-point increase for pattern construction (when breastfed ≥2 months). These differences suggest that breastfed children will be 1 to 6 months ahead of children who were never breastfed.


In white, singleton children in the United Kingdom, breastfeeding is associated with improved cognitive development, particularly in children born preterm.

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