Breastfeeding may improve offspring's mental health

December 1, 2008

Breastfed children are less likely to experience behavioral or mental health issues.

Breastfed children are less likely to experience behavioral or mental health issues than those who are not breastfed, according to research presented at the American Public Health Association meeting in San Diego.

Katherine Hobbs Knutson, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a colleague examined 102,353 parent/guardian interviews concerning the health of children aged 10 months to 18 years from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health. Parents were asked questions regarding breastfeeding and their children's behavior, and answers were analyzed via multivariate regression.

Parents/guardians of breastfed children were significantly less likely (23%) to report apprehension over their children's ability to learn for themselves. Similarly, they were significantly less likely (24%) to report concern over learning in preschool. Odds of concern regarding the children's behavior, medically diagnosed behavioral/conduct problems and receipt of mental health care were decreased by 15%, 37%, and 37%, respectively, in parents/guardians of breastfed children compared with those of non-breastfed children.

More information on this research is available at http://www.apha.org/meetings/.