'Feeding on demand can up IQ'

By Gillian Tsoi

Feeding hungry babies on demand will result in them having a higher IQ, according to a new study from the UK.

The study suggests that babies who are breast-fed or bottle-fed to a schedule do not perform as well in school as their demand-fed peers.

Researchers examined IQ tests and SAT tests of over 10,000 children born in the early 1990s, who were aged between five and 14.

They discovered that the IQ levels of eight-year-old children, who had been demand-fed as babies, were up to five points higher than those of schedule-fed children.

However, the study also found that feeding their babies at scheduled times had benefits for the mothers, who reported feelings of confidence and high levels of well-being.

The study was carried out at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex and the University of Oxford.

"The difference in IQ levels of around four to five points, though statistically highly significant, would not make a child at the bottom of the class move to the top, but it would be noticeable," said Dr Maria Iacovou, who led the research from ISER.

Dr Iacovou added: "To give a sense of the kind of difference that four or five higher IQ points might make, in a class of 30 children, for example, a child who is right in the middle of the class, ranked at 15th, might be, with an improvement of four or five IQ points, ranked higher, at about 11th or 12th in the class."

The study looked at three types of mother and baby pairs: those where the baby was fed to a schedule at four weeks of age, those where the mother tried but did not manage to feed to a schedule, and those that fed on demand.

The children of mothers who had tried to feed to a schedule, but did not, were found to have similar higher levels of attainment in SATs tests and IQ scores as demand-fed babies.

The study appeared in the European Journal of Public Health.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.