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Effect of childhood nutrition counselling on intelligence in adolescence: a 15-year follow-up of a cluster-randomised trial

  • Tiago N Munhoz (a1) (a2), Iná S Santos (a1), Simone de M. Karam (a3), Jose Martines (a4), Gretel Pelto (a5), Raquel Barcelos (a1), Helen Gonçalves (a1), Neiva CJ Valle (a1), Luciana Anselmi (a1) and Alicia Matijasevich (a1) (a6)...

The present study aimed to assess the effects of an early childhood nutrition counselling intervention on intelligence (as measured by the intelligence quotient (IQ)) at age 15–16 years.


A single-blind, cluster-randomised trial.


In 1998, in Southern Brazil, mothers of children aged 18 months or younger were enrolled in a nutrition counselling intervention (n 424). Counselling included encouragement and promotion of exclusive breast-feeding until 6 months of age and continued breast-feeding supplemented by protein-, lipid- and carbohydrate-rich foods after age 6 months up to age 2 years. The control group received routine feeding advice. In 2013, the fourth round of follow-up of these individuals, at the age of 15–16 years, was undertaken. IQ was assessed using the short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III). Mental disorders (evaluated using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA)) and self-reported school failure, smoking and alcohol use were also investigated. Adjusted analyses were conducted using a multilevel model in accordance with the sampling process.


Adolescents, mean (sd) age of 15·4 (0·5) years (n 339).


Mean (sd) total IQ score was lower in the intervention group than the control group (93·4 (11·4) and 95·8 (11·2), respectively) but the association did not persist after adjustment. The prevalence of any mental disorders was similar between intervention and control groups (23·1 and 23·5 %, respectively). There were no differences between groups regarding school failure, smoking and alcohol use.


Nutrition counselling intervention in early childhood had no effect on intelligence measured during adolescence.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
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