While it has been known that breastfeeding enhances child development and protects from disease, a new study now suggests breastfeeding can also convey positive mental development for infants.
Specifically, breastfeeding may protect against the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in childhood.
ADHD is a common neurobehavioral disorders usually first diagnosed in childhood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
Although the origins of ADHD are not yet known, experts believe genetics and perinatal factors are major factors toward development of the condition.
In the research, a team of Israeli researchers compared breastfeeding history and other factors in a group of children 6-12 year of age diagnosed with ADHD to control groups of children who did not have ADHD.
The results demonstrated that overall, the children with ADHD were less likely to have been breastfed at 3 and 6 months of age than the children without ADHD.
This association between ADHD and lack of breastfeeding was statistically significant.
The study, led by Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, M.D., is reported inBreastfeeding Medicine, the Official Journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
“Breastfeeding has been shown to have a positive impact on child development, good health, and protection against illness. Now, another possible benefit of breastfeeding for three months and especially six months or longer has been identified,” said Ruth Lawrence, M.D., editor-in-chief of Breastfeeding Medicine and professor of pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine.
“This study opens another avenue of investigation in the prevention of ADHD.”