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Statistics reveal that ADHD is the commonest neuro-developmental disorder afflicting about 11% of all American children. Its prevalence rate has been steadily increasing. But research shows that simply breastfeeding your child can reduce his risk of ADHD.

Advocates of breastfeeding have always said that breastfeeding helps in better bonding between the mother and her baby. Not only does it relax the mother, it provides the baby with a warm and secure environment. This helps in improving the brain power of the baby.

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Studies have shown that breastfed babies have a higher IQ compared to non-breastfed babies by the time they are eight years old.

Apart from this, there are many other benefits of breastfeeding the babies. Now, there is another addition in the list of these benefits. In one of the first of its kind research, it has been shown that breastfed babies are less likely to develop ADHD.

The likelihood of developing ADHD in children is inversely proportional to the duration of breastfeeding

A new study, published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, has found that children who are breastfed are less likely to develop ADHD and the longer the duration of breastfeeding, the lesser are the chances of this disorder. The research was led by scientists from the Schneider’s Children Medical Center, Petach Tikva, Israel. They did a retrospective research on 50 children who had been diagnosed as suffering from ADHD at the hospital between 2008 and 2009. All the children were around the age of 6 to 12 years.

This test group was compared to a set of control groups.

The first control group comprised of healthy children who had siblings suffering from ADHD. This group was similar to the test group in their genetic and environmental background.

The second control group comprised of healthy children with no family history of ADHD. The age of the children in the control group matched the children in the test group.

The parents of all the children were asked to fill up a questionnaire which contained questions regarding their demographic, medical and perinatal findings. The history of breastfeeding of the children during the first year of their lives was also noted. The parents were also asked to fill up a validated adult ADHD screening questionnaire.

Researchers noticed that the likelihood of developing ADHD in children was inversely proportional to the duration of breastfeeding. Among the children in the test group (those who had been diagnosed with ADHD), only 43% had been breastfed till they were 3 months old. Among the test groups, 69% of the children with a sibling suffering from ADHD had been breastfed until 3 months. 73% of the children with no history of ADHD in the family had been breastfed until three months old.

In what strengthens the association between breastfeeding and ADHD, the researchers noticed that among the children diagnosed with ADHD, only 29% had been breastfed until they were six months old.

It was also seen that 50% of children with a sibling suffering from ADHD had been breastfed until they were six months old. This percentage was as high as 57% in cases of children from the second control group where there was no family history of ADHD.

On the basis of these results, the researchers have concluded that breastfeeding offers partial protection against the development of ADHD.

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