Breast-Feeding May Affect Child Development

Researchers find that breast-fed children are less likely to have delays in language and motor skills

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women who initiate and continue breast-feeding may help reduce their child's risk of having a delay in language and motor skill development, according to a study in a supplement to the February issue of Pediatrics.

Deborah L. Dee, M.P.H., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed cross-sectional data from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health on 22,399 children (mean age, 2.79 years). Sixty-seven percent of the subjects were non-Hispanic white, 16 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were non-Hispanic black.

The researchers found that significant percentages of mothers expressed concerns about their child's expressive language development (about 17 percent), receptive language (10 percent), fine motor skills (6 percent) and general motor skills (5 percent). They also found that mothers of never-breast-fed children were more likely than mothers of breast-fed children to be concerned about their child's expressive and receptive language development and motor skills.

"This finding, along with the threshold effect on children's language and motor skill development among those breast-fed for at least three months, reinforces recommendations of medical and professional organizations, as well as those within Healthy People 2010, that women initiate breast-feeding and practice extended breast-feeding beyond the early postpartum period," the authors conclude.

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