Schizophrenia antidote in breast milk

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Children fed on mothers' milk have a ten-point IQ headstart over bottle-fed babies, according to a psychiatric survey today. Those who missed out are not only less bright than they would have been, they are quieter, more withdrawn and make fewer friends at school, the research indicates. They also appear to be at higher risk of developing schizophrenia in later life.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Robin McCreadie, of the Crichton Royal Hospital, Dumfries, who led the research as part of an investigation into the causes of schizophrenia, said: "Mothers' milk contains an essential constituent, missing from cows' milk, for proper brain development of babies. Breast- fed babies are nearly ten IQ points brighter than those raised on cows' milk.

"The fatty acid [docosahexaenoic acid, known as DHA] in mothers' milk is vital for proper development of the brain and to give it protection from schizophrenia. When all mothers breast-fed their babies, schizophrenia was virtually unknown in Britain. But with the advent of bottle feeding - early last century - the disease gained a foothold."

His survey, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, shows that seven out of ten schizophrenia patients were not breast-fed.