June 01, 2011
Cynthia Harden, MD
A recent article from Medline Plus commented on a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, where researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Aarhus in Denmark found that those babies who were breastfed may have fewer seizures after they’re a year old. Moreover, the longer they were breastfed, the better. This finding that breast feeding reduces the risk of onset of early childhood epilepsy is intriguing.
In the study, kids who had breastfed for at least three months had about a one in 135 chance of developing epilepsy after they were a year old. If they were breastfed for at least six months , this chance dropped to about one in 150. Babies on breast milk for at least nine months had about a one in 200 chance of getting the seizure disorder later.
However, the data from the study is somewhat limited in that almost every infant in the study was breastfed for at least one month and only 2 percent of the sample was not breast-fed at all. Given that about 25 percent of US mothers do not breastfeed their infants, a bigger sample size of those in the study who were not breastfed would have been informative. However, for researchers in epilepsy such as myself, the data from the study is remarkable and very thought-provoking.
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