Breast is best, but for how long? Testing breastfeeding guidelines for optimal cognitive ability

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dc.contributor.author Doyle, Orla
dc.contributor.author Timmins, Lori
dc.date.accessioned 2009-05-21T16:24:30Z
dc.date.available 2009-05-21T16:24:30Z
dc.date.copyright 2008, Geary Institute en
dc.date.issued 2008
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10197/1133
dc.description.abstract Objectives: To investigate the relationship between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development using longitudinal survey data. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive breastfeeding until six months post-partum and a combination of complementary foods and breast milk thereafter. This study estimates non-parametric regression models to test whether these recommendations also hold for cognitive ability. Design: Longitudinal cohort study with two waves of 18,819 children who were born in the UK between 2000-2002. We estimate several generalised additive regression models to examine the impact of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding duration on cognitive ability, while controlling for a range of confounding family characteristics. Setting and Participants: Participants of the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Main outcome measures: Cognitive development at age three as measured by the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. Results: The models identify a non-linear relationship between exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding and cognitive ability. There are high initial positive returns to exclusive breastfeeding which peak at six months, with the returns to non-exclusive breastfeeding continuing to increase until 10/12 months. These results suggest that the WHO/AAP guidelines recommending exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life also hold for optimal cognitive ability. The models also show that the optimal switching point from exclusive to nonexclusive breastfeeding occurs at six months, and that a combination of breast milk and solids should continue until thereafter, peaking at 10 months. Conclusion: While breastfeeding recommendations primarily target physical growth and development, our study confirms that such recommendations are also optimal for cognitive development. These results provide further evidence that recent UK policy initiatives to extend paid maternity leave is appropriate for the maximal development of the child’s cognitive ability. While this study controls for a range of confounding factors, there may still exist unobserved family characteristics which mediate this relationship. en
dc.format.extent 156409 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher University College Dublin. Geary Institute en
dc.relation.ispartofseries UCD Geary Institute Discussion Paper Series en
dc.relation.ispartofseries WP/21/2008 en
dc.subject.lcsh Breastfeeding en
dc.subject.lcsh Child psychology en
dc.subject.lcsh Longitudinal method en
dc.subject.mesh Breast Feeding en
dc.subject.mesh Child Development en
dc.title Breast is best, but for how long? Testing breastfeeding guidelines for optimal cognitive ability en
dc.type Working Paper en
dc.internal.authorurl Orla Doyle (web page) en
dc.internal.authorurl http://www.ucd.ie/research/people/gearyinstitute/drorladoyle/ en
dc.internal.authorid UCD0007 en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.internal.webversions Publisher's version en
dc.internal.webversions http://geary.ucd.ie/images/Publications/WorkingPapers/gearywp200821.pdf en
dc.status Not peer reviewed en
dc.neeo.contributor Doyle|Orla|aut|UCD0007
dc.neeo.contributor Timmins|Lori|aut|


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