Could Breastfeeding for Longer Reduce Baby’s Risk Of ADHD?

save article
profile picture of Kylie McConville
Updated February 28, 2017
Hero Image

The latest study to come from the journal Breastfeeding Medicine found that children with children who breastfeed for shorter durations may be more likely to have ADHD.

Researchers at Schneider’s Children Medical Center studied over 50 children (age 6-12) who had been diagnosed with ADHD between 2008 and 2009. These children were compared to two control groups: the first consisted of healthy (non-ADHD) siblings of ADHD children and the second control group was composed of children of similar ages without ADHD. Researchers also presented a questionnaire to both parents of children in all three groups that addressed: demographic, medical and perinatal findings, as well as feeding history during their child’s first year of life. Parents were also given a validated adult ADHD screening questionnaire.

From the study and the questionnaire results, researchers found that the rates of breastfeeding were substantially lower among those children diagnosed with ADHD: only 43 percent were breastfed until they were three months old. When researchers studied the two control groups, they found that 69 percent of the siblings and 73 percent of the children not related to the kids with ADHD were breastfed until they were three months old. What’s  more, only 29 percent of children with ADHD were breastfed until they were six months old. When studied, scientists found 50 percent of siblings and 57 percent of kids in the second control group were breastfed until they were six months.

According to the authors of the study, those differences suggest that partial prevention of ADHD could be found in breastfeeding. And from the results, researchers were able to conclude that children with ADHD were less likely to breastfeed at 3 and 6 months. But researchers and doctors in general agree that this is only the tip of the iceberg — and there is much, much more work to be done if they are to show the association between breastfeeding and prevention of ADHD.

Related Video

Though he was not involved in the study, Dr. Andrew Gerber said, “You can never know in a very basic, statistical way whether you have controlled adequately for other variables. You do the best you can, and I believe these authors tried, but it’s very hard to take a study like this and infer anything.” He went on to add, “Is it plausible that there are aspects of breastfeeding and bonding with the baby that are important and can have wide-reaching implications for development, both intellectually and emotionally? Yes. But does that mean in a concrete way that lack of breastfeeding leads to ADHD? The answer to that is almost certainly ‘no.’”

What Gerber did say, however, was that if future studies confirm that breastfeeding has a direct, protective effect against ADHD, he believed it would most likely stem from the fact that breastfeeding promotes early mother-infant bonding, which, through several studies, has shown to influence a child’s emotional and intellectual development.

Until further research is done, Gerber warns expectant mothers and moms from taking these findings too seriously. He said of that the conclusions researchers drew from the study should not, “put mothers in a position where they think this particular ingredient is so crucial, that if they can’t do it, they’re bad moms. What matters more in emotional and intellectual development is that they be competent, comfortable mothers. For some moms, that means breastfeeding.”

Do you think breastfeeding could help prevent ADHD in your babies?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

molly baz swehl lactation cookies ad in times square
Why Was This Breastfeeding Billboard Taken Down?
By Natalie Gontcharova
mother breastfeeding infant baby
How Many Calories Do I Burn From Breastfeeding?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Parent wearing a nursing top and holding a baby on their chest
Where to Shop for the Best Nursing Clothes
By Martina Garvey
 Kourtney Kardashian Barker on the today show Monday, September 12, 2022
Kourtney Kardashian Reveals She Drinks Her Own Breast Milk
By Wyndi Kappes
mom breastfeeding baby
Olympic Committee Will Provide Breastfeeding Athletes Hotel Rooms
By Wyndi Kappes
mother breastfeeding infant at home
How to Get a Proper Breastfeeding Latch
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
mother breastfeeding baby
Breastfeeding Let-Down 101: Everything You Should Know
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
sad mother breastfeeding baby
Is D-MER the Reason You Feel Sad While Breastfeeding?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
baby with mouth open breastfeeding
Mom's Impression of a Baby Who ‘Can’t Find the Nip’ Goes Viral
By Wyndi Kappes
mom holding baby while drinking coffee in kitchen
Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
The 9 Best Breast Milk Storage Bags-Hero
The 10 Best Breast Milk Storage Bags to Preserve Your Liquid Gold
By Korin Miller
mother feeing bottle to baby
Can You Mix Breast Milk and Formula?
Medically Reviewed by Loretta Cody, MD
Kelly Mi Li at Vegan Fashion Week held at California Market Center on October 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
Bling Empire Star Kelly Mi Li Opens Up About Breastfeeding Struggles
By Wyndi Kappes
Best Nursing Pillows-hero
The Best Nursing Pillows (Plus How to Use One)
By Kathleen Harris
entrance of disney world
Photo of Mom Breastfeeding Her Baby on Disney Ride Goes Viral
By Wyndi Kappes
a mother breast pumping milk while sitting on bed at home
Why You Might Consider Power Pumping (and How to Do It)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
young woman pouring a glass of red wine in kitchen at home
Breastfeeding & Alcohol: Is It Safe to Drink?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
closeup of baby breastfeeding
Are There Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Cluster Feeding: Everything You Need to Know
Cluster Feeding: Everything You Need to Know
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
black mother breastfeeding baby at home
Black Women on Finding Joy in Breastfeeding
By Ashley Simpo
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List