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Breastfeeding Duration Is Associated With Domain-Specific Improvements in Cognitive Performance in 9-10-Year-Old Children.


Significant immunological, physical and neurological benefits of breastfeeding in infancy are well-established, but to what extent these gains persist into later childhood remain uncertain. This study examines the association between breastfeeding duration and subsequent domain-specific cognitive performance in a diverse sample of 9-10-year-olds enrolled in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study®. The analyses included 9,116 children that attended baseline with their biological mother and had complete neurocognitive and breastfeeding data. Principal component analysis was conducted on data from an extensive battery of neurocognitive tests using varimax-rotation to extract a three-component model encompassing General Ability, Executive Functioning, and Memory. Propensity score weighting using generalized boosted modeling was applied to balance the distribution of observed covariates for children breastfed for 0, 1-6, 7-12, and more than 12 months. Propensity score-adjusted linear regression models revealed significant association between breastfeeding duration and performance on neurocognitive tests representing General Ability, but no evidence of a strong association with Executive Function or Memory. Benefits on General Ability ranged from a 0.109 (1-6 months) to 0.301 (>12 months) standardized beta coefficient difference compared to those not breastfed. Results indicate clear cognitive benefits of breastfeeding but that these do not generalize to all measured domains, with implications for public health policy as it pertains to nutrition during infancy.

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