Objective To prospectively examine the prolonged effect of breastfeeding on behavioral development. Study design We used a large, nationwide Japanese population-based longitudinal survey that began in 2001. We restricted participants to term singletons with birth weight >2500 g (n = 41 188). Infant feeding practice was queried at age 6-7 months. Responses to survey questions about age-appropriate behaviors at age 2.5 and 5.5 years were used as indicators of behavioral development. We conducted logistic regression analyses, controlling for potential child and parental confounding factors, with formula feeding as the reference group. Results We observed a dose-response relationship between breastfeeding status and an inability to perform age-appropriate behaviors at both ages. With a single exception, all ORs for outcomes for exclusive breastfeeding were smaller than those for partial feeding of various durations. The protective associations did not change after adjustment for an extensive list of confounders or in the sensitivity analyses. Conclusion We observed prolonged protective effects of breastfeeding on developmental behavior skills surveyed at age 2.5 and 5.5 years. Beneficial effects were most likely in children who were breastfed exclusively, but whether a biological ingredient in breast milk or extensive interactions through breastfeeding, or both, is beneficial is unclear.
- Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare
- Randomized control trial
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health