(photo credit: illustration: Heather McKinnon, Seattle Times/MCT))
A new study shows that breastfeeding for at least three months may reduce the
risk of and even prevent Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
The study, appearing in Breastfeeding Medicine, was carried out
by an Israeli team on 150 children aged six to 12 years.
ADHD is a
neurobehavioral disorder characterized by a significant lack of attention or
impulsiveness and hyperactivity – or both.
The condition is usually
recognized by the time the child finishes first grade and affects up to 15
percent of school-age children. In 30 to 50% of cases, the chronic disorder
continues through adulthood.
The study was conducted by Dr. Aviva
Mimouni- Bloch, head of the Institute for Child Development and the
Neuropediatric-rehabilitation unit at Beit Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital
in Ra’anana; and Dr. Anna Katchvanskaya of the Rabin Medical Center-
Beilinson Campus’s neonatal department in Petah Tikva.
The children were
all diagnosed with ADHD at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah
Two control groups of the same or comparable genetic background
who were raised under similar conditions but not diagnosed with ADHD were used
as a comparison; the first group included siblings of ADHD children who did not
have the disorder themselves.
They asked the mothers to fill out a
comprehensive questionnaire on their education, psychosocial factors and any
medical conditions as well as data on their pregnancy and delivery.
study showed that the lowest rate of ADHD was diagnosed in children who were
breast-fed between three and six months, compared to the two control
The researchers said theirs was the first study in which control
groups with similar genetic and environmental characteristics (including
siblings of children with ADHD) were used and a connection was found between
breast-feeding and low ADHD risk.
Among the ADHD children, only 43%
breast-fed at three months, compared to 69% in the group of siblings with a
similar genetic background and 73% of the additional control group.