It has been proposed that breast-feeding might have a protective effect against the development of adult schizophrenia.Aims
To test this hypothesis.Method
Using prospective data from two UK national birth cohorts, the feeding histories of those who later developed schizophrenia were compared with the remaining population at risk. Analyses in each cohort were considered to be independent tests of the hypothesis.Results
There were no differences in feeding histories. In the 1946 birth cohort (n=4447) 30 cases of DSM-III-R schizophrenia arose by age 43; 24.1% of cases v. 23.6% of controls were entirely bottle-fed; 17.3% v. 12.3% were breast-fed for under 1 month; 58.6% v. 64.1% were breast-fed beyond 1 month. In the 1958 cohort (n=18 856), 40 cases of CATEGO nuclear schizophrenia arose by age 28; 24.1% of cases v. 31.7% of controls were entirely bottle-fed; 27.6% v. 24.9% were breast-fed for under 1 month; 48.3% v. 43.4% were breast-fed beyond 1 month.Conclusions
These findings provide no evidence of any effect of breast-feeding in protecting against the risk of later schizophrenia.Declaration of interest
Funded by grants from the Stanley Foundation.