A team of researchers from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University has just published a paper on the role breastfeeding plays in the development of a child’s ADHD in later life. The research itself was designed to examine this relationship and their finding clearly indicate that periods of longer exclusive breastfeeding, specifically six months or more, is negatively correlated to the emergence of ADHD later in the child’s life.
The research team was under the leadership of Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, MD, and their work was published in Breastfeeding Medicine.
To understand the relationship, the scientists compared the breastfeeding history along with other environmental factors of children between six and 12 years of age who had received a medical diagnosis of ADHD to two different groups of kids of the same age without the disorder to act as control groups.
The first control group was composed of children did not have ADHD but had a sibling with the condition. This was to ensure a similar genetic makeup and environment. The second control group was comprised of other children of the same age but did not have the condition, nor did their siblings.
Mothers of the children were then tasked with completing a questionnaire that gather data on, amongst other things; education, social and medical status, as well as details pertaining to the pregnancy. Additionally, mothers were also asked of their breastfeeding habits, specifically: did they breastfeed exclusively, provide formula exclusively, or mix between the two, and how long breastfeeding was practiced (either one, two, three, six, or 12 months).
The findings were striking, children who had been breastfed for three months and especially six months were far less likely to have ADHD. Of the children who had ADHD, 43% were breastfed at three months and only 29% were breastfed at six months.
Ruth Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, said:
“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. This study opens another avenue of investigation in the prevention of ADHD.”
The authors concluded:
“Whether the lesser exposure to breastfeeding in ADHD children is causally associated with ADHD or, on the contrary, a consequence of early abnormalities of feeding behavior at the breast cannot be determined from the current study. We speculate that prevention, at least partial, of ADHD may be added to the list of the multiple biological advantages of human milk feeding.”
While this may not be as actionable to parents of children who currently have the condition, it is certainly important to bear in mind for future mothers, as well as to have a better understanding of the condition as a whole.
Another great resource for expectant or new mothers is our list of early warning signs of ADHD, that all parents should be aware of. We also put together a research collection on breastfeeding and ADHD along with other tips on how to naturally treat ADHD symptoms.
Glynn, S. (2013, May 16). “Breastfeeding May Help Prevent ADHD In Children.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Breastfeeding May Protect from Developing Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, Anna Kachevanskaya, Francis Benjamin Mimouni, Avinoam Shuper, Eyal Raveh, and Nehama Linder
Breastfeeding Medicine May, 2013; doi:10.1089/bfm.2012.0145