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ADHD in the News – Breastfeeding May Protect Against ADHD

July 24, 2013

ADHD and BreastfeedingA new study from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has determined that breastfeeding may offer some kind of protection against the development of ADHD.  The study took a retrospective look at the breastfeeding history of a group of children aged 6-12.  The group included children who had been diagnosed with ADHD, siblings of these children, and children who do not have the condition.  After accounting for other risk factors, the results indicated that those children with ADHD were less likely to be breastfed than those who did not have ADHD.

When I first read this headline, I was like, “ok, we must be an anomaly then because I breastfed both my boys and they both have ADHD”.  However, as I read the articles and news reports, I noticed something important.  If you look at the results, it isn’t actually a question of breastfed or not breastfed, it is a question of how long they were breastfed.  With both boys I had to return to work within a month or two and despite my efforts, it did not take long for me to decide that trying to pump while working was never going to be a workable solution for me and my ADHD.

This meant that although I did breastfeed, it was only for a month or two whereas the study doesn’t even count it unless the child was breastfeeding at 3 months.  Therefore, my boys would fall under the “not breastfed” category. According to the study, only 43% of the children with ADHD were being breastfed at 3 months as opposed to 73% of the children without it.

If further research confirms this link and expands our understanding of why the link exists, it may provide just cause to look at how we handle maternity leave in this country.

However, I would like to mention the somewhat obvious point that since kids with ADHD are more likely to have Moms with ADHD and breastfeeding while working is an ADHD nightmare, it may have nothing at all to do with breastfeeding or breast milk or the bond created between mother and child.  It may be that ADHD moms are less equipped to handle the challenges presented by breastfeeding once they return to work which decreases the amount of time they breastfeed AND that ADHD moms are more likely to have ADHD kids.

Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions worldwide.   For more information, go to

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