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Breast-feeding and alcoholism: the Trotter hypothesis

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  • D W Goodwin
  • W F Gabrielli
  • E C Penick
  • E J Nickel
  • S Chhibber
  • J Knop
  • Per Jensen
  • Fini Schulsinger
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OBJECTIVE: The authors' goal was to determine whether early termination of breast-feeding contributes to later alcohol dependence, as proposed more than 200 years ago by the British physician Thomas Trotter.

METHOD: In 1959-1961, a multiple-specialty group of physicians studied 9, 182 consecutive deliveries in a Danish hospital, obtaining data about prepartum and postpartum variables. The present study concentrates on perinatal variables obtained from 200 of the original babies who participated in a 30-year high-risk follow-up study of the antecedents of alcoholism.

RESULTS: Of the 27 men who were diagnosed as alcohol dependent at age 30, 13 (48%) came from the group weaned from the breast before the age of 3 weeks; only 33 (19%) of the 173 non-alcohol-dependent subjects came from the early weaning group. When challenged by other perinatal variables in a multiple regression analysis, early weaning significantly contributed to the prediction of the severity of alcoholism at age 30.

CONCLUSIONS: The data support the hypothesis that early weaning may be associated with a greater risk of alcohol dependence later in life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American journal of psychiatry
Volume156
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)650-2
Number of pages3
ISSN0002-953X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999

    Research areas

  • Adult, Age Factors, Alcoholism, Birth Weight, Breast Feeding, Cohort Studies, Denmark, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Prevalence, Regression Analysis, Risk Factors, Severity of Illness Index, Social Class, Time Factors, Weaning

ID: 46035180