Breast-Feeding May Lower Odds of Behavioral Problems

Breast-feeding for four months or more may lower odds of behavioral problems in term children

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding for at least four months is associated with reduced odds of behavioral problems at age 5 years in term children, but the correlation is less clear for preterm children, according to a study published online May 9 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Katriina Heikkilä, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the association between breast-feeding and behavioral development in children up to age 5 years in a cohort of 10,037 white mother-child pairs from the United Kingdom. Parent-completed interviews when the children were 9 months old were used to identify the duration of breast-feeding. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to assess child behavior.

The investigators found that abnormal SDQ scores are less prevalent in term children than preterm children (12 versus 15 percent). Term children who were breast-fed for four months or longer had lower odds of an abnormal total SDQ score compared with those who were never breast-fed (adjusted odds ratio, 0.67). A similar effect was seen for SDQ subscores. For preterm children, longer duration of breast-feeding was correlated with reduced odds of abnormal total and subscore SDQ, but the effect estimates were imprecise. The correlations between breast-feeding and abnormal SDQ scores were similar for exclusive and any breast-feeding.

"Longer duration of breast feeding (at all or exclusively) is associated with having fewer parent-rated behavioral problems in term children. The evidence for an association between breast-feeding and behavioral problems in preterm children was unclear," the authors write.

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