Longer duration of breastfeeding associated with risk of developing schizophrenia

M S Hartong, P P Oosthuizen, R A Emsley


Background. Some studies have suggested that breastfeeding may be protective against the development of schizophrenia. Such a theory supports the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia.

Objective. To determine whether there were differences in breastfeeding patterns between patients with schizophrenia and controls.

Method. Fifty subjects with schizophrenia and 50 age- and gender-matched controls were included in the study. All subjects and their mothers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire to determine the extent of breastfeeding in infancy and age of onset of psychosis.

Results. There was a significant difference in the duration of breastfeeding in patients versus controls (p < 0.05).

Conclusion. Breastfeeding seems to be protective against the development of schizophrenia. This supports the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of this disorder and may be indicative of the role of essential fatty acids in normal brain development and the prevention of schizophrenia.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v13i2.30

Submitted: 04 October 2007
Published: 01 June 2007

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)