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Thursday 20th October 2016

Breastfeeding link to IQ

6th November 2007

Researchers in London say they have identified a type of gene which determines if breastfeeding can improve a child's IQ.


The team, working at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, examined information from two previous studies of breastfed babies in Britain and New Zealand.

The studies included information from over 3,000 children in total, who sat IQ tests at various times from the ages of five to 13.

They showed that babies who were breastfed and had a particular type of the FADS2 gene were able to score seven points higher in IQ tests.

90% of people are carriers of this type of FADS2 gene. It aids in the breakdown of fatty acids ingested from food and which have been associated with brain function.

Professor Jean Golding, who founded a study which traced the development of many children in England, commented: "In the past people have had different results about whether breastfeeding improves IQ and this would sort out the reason why".

However, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study found breastfeeding had no effect on the IQ of children with a different version.

Previous research examining the link between intelligence and breastfeeding has produced differing results.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, a co-author on the paper, said: "The argument about intelligence has been about nature versus nurture for at least a century."

"However, we have shown that in fact nature works via nurture to create better health outcomes."

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