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Breastfeeding Linked to Fewer Behavioral Difficulties for Children

FRIDAY, Nov. 13, 2020 -- Breastfeeding is associated with fewer parent-reported behavioral difficulties, which decrease further with longer duration of breastfeeding, according to a study published online Nov. 9 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Lydia Gabriela Speyer, Ph.D., from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined data from the Millennium Cohort Study involving 11,148 children, their parents, and teachers to examine the longitudinal effect of breastfeeding on behavior in children aged 3 to 14 years.

The researchers found that even after adjustment for potential confounders, there was a correlation seen for breastfeeding with fewer parent-reported behavioral difficulties at all ages (breastfeeding duration: less than two months, two to four months, four to six months, more than six months: B = −0.22, −0.53, −1.07, and −1.24, respectively; B = adjusted mean difference of raw Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire at age 3, reference: never breast fed).

"This study offers further evidence consistent with the idea that breastfeeding plays a crucial role in children's socioemotional behavioral development," the authors write. "Longer breastfeeding durations are associated with fewer behavioral problems in the short and long terms, though future research is required to illuminate the mechanisms."

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Posted: November 2020

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