London: Children who are fed when they need it are more likely to grow up having a higher IQ and perform better at school than those fed according to a schedule, says a new study.

According to the study published in the European Journal of Public Health, eight-year-olds who were demand-fed as infants had IQs that were four or five points higher than those who were fed to a schedule.

Researchers from Essex and Oxford Universities looked at three types of mothers and babies - babies who were fed to a schedule, for example every four hours, when they were four weeks old, those whose mother tried but did not manage to feed to a schedule, and those who were fed on demand, as reported.

The data was drawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a study of over 10,000 children born in the Bristol area in the early 1990s.The findings show that feeding on demand is associated with higher IQ scores at the age of eight, and better performance in national curriculum tests, known as Sats, at ages five, seven, 11 and 14.

Maria Iacovou from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University said: "The difference between schedule and demand-fed children is found both in breastfed and in bottle-fed babies."The difference in IQ levels of around four to five points, though statistically highly significant, would not make a child at the bottom of the class move to the top, but it would be noticeable."

(Agencies)