Background:Several studies have related longer breastfeeding duration to better intellectual performance in children. By contrast, few studies have investigated the potential protective effects of breastfeeding against behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, and even fewer on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) traits.
Methods:We examined the association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, attention, ADHD symptoms, and autistic traits using data from the INMA Project, a Spanish multicenter birth-cohort study, and taking into account the intensity of breastfeeding. Duration of any, predominant, and exclusive breastfeeding was documented during infancy through maternal questionnaires. Children (N = 1,346; mean age = 4.9 y) were assessed using the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities, Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test, criteria of the DSM-ADHD symptoms form list, and the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test.
Results:After adjustment for several confounders, longer duration of breastfeeding was independently associated with better cognitive development and with fewer autistic traits.
Conclusion:This study provides further evidence of a positive association of breastfeeding with cognitive function apart from socio-environmental factors, and also suggests a protective role against autistic traits. Results are in agreement with recommendations for prolonged breastfeeding duration to promote child development.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1038/pr.2016.238, hdl.handle.net/1765/98959
Journal Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Rights No subscription
Citation
Boucher, O, Julvez, J, Guxens Junyent, M, Arranz, E, Ibarluzea, J, Sánchez De Miguel, M, … Sunyer, J. (2017). Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms: A multicenter study in Spain. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 81(3), 434–442. doi:10.1038/pr.2016.238