Breastfeeding may protect from developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Breastfeed Med. 2013 Aug;8(4):363-7. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2012.0145. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Introduction: Breastfeeding has a positive influence on physical and mental development. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral disorder with major social, familial, and academic influences. The present study aimed to evaluate whether ADHD is associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding.

Subjects and methods: In this retrospective matched study, children 6-12 years old diagnosed at Schneider's Children Medical Center (Petach Tikva, Israel) with ADHD between 2008 and 2009 were compared with two control groups. The first one consisted of healthy (no ADHD) siblings of ADHD children; the second control group consisted of children without ADHD who consulted at the otolaryngology clinic. A constructed questionnaire about demographic, medical, and perinatal findings, feeding history during the first year of life, and a validated adult ADHD screening questionnaire were given to both parents of every child in each group.

Results: In children later diagnosed as having ADHD, 43% were breastfed at 3 months of age compared with 69% in the siblings group and 73% in the control non-related group (p=0.002). By 6 months of age 29% of ADHD children were breastfed compared with 50% in the siblings group and 57% in the control non-related group (p=0.011). A stepwise logistic regression that included the variables found to be significant in univariate analysis demonstrated a significant association between ADHD and lack of breastfeeding at 3 months of age, maternal age at birth, male gender, and parental divorce.

Conclusions: Children with ADHD were less likely to breastfeed at 3 months and 6 months of age than children in the two control groups. We speculate that breastfeeding may have a protective effect from developing ADHD later in childhood.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / prevention & control*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Control Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires