Date of this Version
Jamison, M. 2019. The Implications of Breastfeeding for Young Children's Cognitive Development. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Breastfeeding is encouraged to mothers across the world due to its positive effects on infant development. The effects of breastfeeding on cognitive development, however, remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a dose-dependent relationship between breastfeeding and IQ scores exists in young children, and whether gender has any effect on this relationship. We tested the IQ of 82 children aged 3.5-6 years old and surveyed their mother/legal guardian on how long they were breastfed as an infant. In this relatively high SES sample, there was no relationship between breastfeeding duration and verbal, non-verbal or full-scale IQ scores. Although correlations between breastfeeding and IQ were significant for boys, there was no significant interaction between gender and breastfeeding when the whole sample was considered. Overall, findings align with recent reviews that suggest negligible or insignificant effects of breastfeeding on IQ when covariates are carefully considered. In future studies, we recommend including gestational age as a potential confound, recruiting a larger and more diverse sample size, and including more accurate methods of tracking breastfeeding duration.