Breastfed Children Develop ADHD Less Often, Study Claims

A new study suggests that breastfed children develop ADHD at a much lower rate than formula fed babies.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University were examining the positive impacts of breastfeeding on child development and health when they discovered the link to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Head of the Child Neurodevelopmental Center in Loewenstein Hospital, completed a retrospective study on the breastfeeding habits of parents. The parents were broken down into three groups with children: a group that had been diagnosed with ADHD; siblings of those diagnosed with ADHD; and a control group of children without ADHD and lacking any genetic ties to the disorder.

Examing The Link Between ADHD And Breastfeeding

In the study, researchers examined the breastfeeding histories of children from 6 to 12 years of age. The children were all patients of Schneider’s Children Medical Center in Israel. The group with ADHD children was composed of kids who had been diagnosed at the hospital. The second group included the siblings of ADHD patients, and the third group involved children with no known neurobehavioral issues.

Researchers had parents describe their breastfeeding habits for the first year of their child’s life. Parents were then asked to answer a detailed questionnaire on medical and demographic data. Researchers were aiming to rule out other variables that could impact ADHD. Variables included marital status and education of the parents, problems during pregnancy such as hypertension or diabetes, and various other conditions and situations.

Breastfeeding And ADHD: The Results

With all risk factors taken into account, researchers fond that children with ADHD were far less likely to have been breastfed during the first year of life.

The study found that at three monthly only 43 percent of children in the ADHD group were breastfed compared to 69 percent in the sibling group and 73 percent in the control group.

After six months, 29 percent of the ADHD group was breastfed compared to 50 percent in the siblings group and 57 percent in the control group.

Researchers were most proud of their sibling group, a segment that has not been fully explored in other breastfeeding studies. While most parents will choose to breastfeed their children for the same period of time, sometimes a child will ween faster and other variables might be included.

Researchers are still not sure why ADHD lessens with breastfeeding. One theory is that the protective bond formed between a mother and their child helps a child’s development in a positive manner. The components of breast milk may also help a child’s brain chemistry during development.

Do you think breastfeeding has a positive effect on fending off ADHD?

[Image via ShutterStock]

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