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Study: breast milk boosts children's IQ.

A study reported in the Feb. 1 issue of Lancet provides evidence that breast milk may have a beneficial effect on the mental development of children.

In a study of 300 children who were born prematurely, children who were fed breast milk scored significantly higher on IQ tests than children who received formula only.

Previous studies linking breast milk to intelligence have caused controversy. Many doctors wondered whether the benefits attributed to the milk were in fact due to mothers' motivation and education, or bonding during feeding.

In the new study, investigators said they were able to isolate and assess the effects of the milk itself because both groups of children were fed via tubes since they had been too premature to suckle.

The study is not definitive proof, but "very strong evidence," that an as-yet-unidentified substance in breast milk affects mental development, said Dr. Alan Lucas, researcher and head of Infant and Child Nutrition at the Medical Research Council's Dunn Nutrition Unit in Cambridge.

Lucas's study found that 193 children who had gotten either breast milk alone or breast milk plus formula scored significantly higher on IQ tests compared to 107 who had gotten formula only--scoring 103.7 points versus 93.1. The IQ tests were given at age 7-1/2 or 8.

After taking into account the mother's social and educational status, children who were fed breast milk still maintained an IQ advantage of 8.3 points, said Lucas.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1992
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