Researchers found a clear link between rates of breastfeeding and the likelihood of developing ADHD, even when typical risk factors were taken into consideration.
Children who were bottle-fed at three months of age were found to be three times more likely to have ADHD than those who were breastfed during the same period.
The ADHD group was comprised of children that had been diagnosed at the hospital, the second group included the siblings of the ADHD patients, and the control group included children without neurobehavioral issues who had been treated at the clinics for unrelated complaints.
In addition to describing their breastfeeding habits during the first year of their child’s life, parents answered a detailed questionnaire on medical and demographic data that might also have an impact on the development of ADHD, including marital status and education of the parents, problems during pregnancy such as hypertension or diabetes, birth weight of the child, and genetic links to ADHD.
Taking all risk factors into account, researchers found that children with ADHD were far less likely to be breastfed in their first year of life than the children in the other groups.
At three months, only 43 percent of children in the ADHD group were breastfed compared to 69 percent of the sibling group and 73 percent of the control group. At six months, 29 percent of the ADHD group was breastfed, compared to 50 percent of the sibling group and 57 percent of the control group.
I have often argued that much of what is being called ADHD today has more to do with attachment related issues. Healthy parent-child attachment isn’t just a warm-fuzzy psychological bond. It facilitates the development of healthy brain functioning. As I point out here, brain-wise parenting practices such as extended nursing, extravagant affection, prompt responses to infant and toddler cries, and gentle discipline that teaches what to do vs. punishes what went wrong facilitates 8 of the 9 traits associated with mental health. Attachment makes a real difference. It requires a little more from moms and dads but it makes life so much easier in the long run.