Exclusive Breastfeeding of Healthy Term Infants for at Least 6 Weeks Improves Neurological Condition
H. Bouwstra, E. R. Boersma, G. Boehm, D.A.J. Dijck-Brouwer, F.A.J. Muskiet and M. Hadders-Algra
J. Nutr. 133:4243-4245, December 2003
To investigate the minimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding for optimal neurological outcome, we assessed the quality of general movements (GM) at 3 mo of 147 breastfed healthy term infants that were followed from birth. The quality of GM is a sensitive marker of neurological condition. The quality of GM was classified as normal-optimal, normal-suboptimal, mildly abnormal and definitely abnormal. Information on social and pre- and perinatal conditions and the duration of breastfeeding was collected prospectively. Logistical regression analyses were used to adjust for confounders. There was a positive association between breastfeeding duration and movement quality, with a saturation effect at the age of ~ 6 wk. In the group of infants breastfed for <= 6 wk (n = 55), 18% exhibited normal-optimal GM, 47% normal-suboptimal GM, and 47% mildly abnormal GM. In contrast, in the group of infants breastfed for > 6 wk (n = 92), 43% exhibited normal-optimal GM, 45% normal-suboptimal GM, and 12% mildly abnormal GM. Exclusive breastfeeding for > 6 wk was therefore associated with markedly less abnormal and more normal-optimal GM. Thus, we conclude that breastfeeding for > 6 wk might improve the neurological condition in infants.