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Early diet in preterm babies and later intelligence quotient

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 12 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1625

Surely study showed that breast milk is feed of choice for premature babies

  1. Deborah Behrman, Breastfeeding supporter,
  2. Mary Broadfoot (, Breastfeeding supporter,
  3. Phyll Buchanan, Breastfeeding supporter,
  4. Carolanne Lamont, Breastfeeding supporter,
  5. Magda Sachs, Breastfeeding supporter
  1. Breastfeeding Network PO Box 11126, Paisley PA2 8YB
  2. Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  3. Menzies Centre for Population Health Research, Hobart, and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

    EDITOR—Lucas et al's paper on early diet in preterm babies and their later intelligence quotient (IQ)1 sparked intense media interest: “Premature babies need enriched diets,” said the BBC.2 The authors didn't point out any of the known advantages of breast milk for premature babies.

    The paper compared babies who received only infant formula with babies who received breast milk and infant formula. Babies received either standard term formula or preterm formula. The main outcome, IQ at age 7-8, showed no advantage for preterm formula. Subgroup analyses looked at results for boys and girls. Few details were given about how successful the randomisation was in terms of the sex of the baby in relation to weight. Is it then valid to draw separate conclusions for boys and girls?

    We suggest that the following conclusion would be more accurate: “Breast milk continues to be the feed of choice for premature babies. The results did not show …

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