A new Israeli study has found a clear link between rates of breastfeeding and the likelihood of developing ADHD. The Tel Aviv University study showed that children who were bottle-fed at three months of age were found to be three times more likely to have ADHD than those who were breastfed during the same period.
Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Head of the Child Neurodevelopmental Center in Loewenstein Hospital, and her fellow researchers, have shown that breastfeeding could help protect against Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the most commonly diagnosed neurobehavioral disorder in children and adolescents.
In their study, the researchers compared breastfeeding histories of children from six to 12 years of age at Schneider’s Children Medical Center. The ADHD group was comprised of children that had been diagnosed at the hospital, the second group included the siblings of the ADHD patients, and the control group included children without neurobehavioral issues who had been treated at the clinics for unrelated complaints.
In addition to describing their breastfeeding habits during the first year of their child’s life, parents answered a detailed questionnaire on medical and demographic data that might also have an impact on the development of ADHD, including marital status and education of the parents, problems during pregnancy such as hypertension or diabetes, birth weight of the child, and genetic links to ADHD.
Taking all risk factors into account, researchers found that children with ADHD were far less likely to be breastfed in their first year of life than the children in the other groups. At three months, only 43 percent of children in the ADHD group were breastfed compared to 69 percent of the sibling group and 73 percent of the control group. At six months, 29 percent of the ADHD group was breastfed, compared to 50 percent of the sibling group and 57 percent of the control group.
Results from the study were recently published in Breastfeeding Medicine.
Dr. Mimouni-Bloch hopes to conduct a further study on breastfeeding and ADHD, examining children who are at high risk for ADHD from birth and following up in six-month intervals until six years of age, to obtain more data on the phenomenon.