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The effect of breastfeeding on children's cognitive development


  • Iacovou, Maria
  • Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena


This paper uses Propensity Score Matching to investigate the causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development. There is a strong association between breastfeeding and cognitive outcomes; however, it is notoriously difficult to establish whether this is causal, or whether it arises because mothers who breastfeed tend to be those whose children would do better anyway. Using PSM, we find that breastfeeding for four weeks has a positive and significant effect on test scores, in the order of one tenth of a standard deviation. Thus, interventions which increase breastfeeding rates may improve not only children’s health, but also their cognitive skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Iacovou, Maria & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2010. "The effect of breastfeeding on children's cognitive development," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-40, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2010-40

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Breastfeeding and cognitive skills
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-01-26 21:26:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2013. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," IFS Working Papers W13/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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