A study of more than 7,000 children compared the link between eating habits and their resulting IQ at six months of age, 15 months, two years and eight years of age.
A wide range of dietary patterns was used as a basis for comparison and included traditional and contemporary home-prepared food, ready-prepared baby foods, breastfeeding, and ‘discretionary’ or junk foods.
Sr. Smithers the lead researcher explained the aim of the study: “Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life, and the aim of this study was to look at what impact diet would have on children’s IQs.”
“We found that children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight.
“Those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, sweets, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight.
“We also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months,” Dr Smithers says.
Dr Smithers pointed out that the study reinforces the need to provide children with healthy foods at a crucial, formative time in their lives.
“While the differences in IQ are not huge, this study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that dietary patterns from six to 24 months have a small but significant effect on IQ at eight years of age,” Dr Smithers says.
Lisa G. Smithers, Rebecca K. Golley, Murthy N. Mittinty, Laima Brazionis, Kate Northstone, Pauline Emmett, John W. Lynch. Dietary patterns at 6, 15 and 24 months of age are associated with IQ at 8 years of age. European Journal of Epidemiology, 2012; 27 (7): 525 DOI: 10.1007/s10654-012-9715-5