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Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Apr;156(4):650-2.

Breast-feeding and alcoholism: the Trotter hypothesis.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66160-7341, USA.



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.


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.


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.


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

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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