Exclusive breastfeeding of healthy term infants for at least 6 weeks improves neurological condition

H Bouwstra, ER Boersma, G Boehm, DAJ Dijck-Brouwer, FAJ Musket, M Hadders-Algra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


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 similar to 6 wk. In the group of infants breastfed for less than or equal to 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4243-4245
Number of pages3
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2003


  • breastfeeding
  • general movements
  • development
  • term infant
  • MILK

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