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Drinking While Breastfeeding May Impact Children's Cognitive Development


A new study looked at whether consuming alcohol or tobacco while breastfeeding impacts children’s cognitive scores. Appearing in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, “Drinking or Smoking While Breastfeeding and Later Cognition in Children,” (published online July 30) used data of 5,107 Australian infants in The Growing Up Australia Study. They found that exposing babies to alcohol through breastmilk may cause reductions in cognitive abilities at 6-7 years of age. However, by 10-11 years of age the impact was not evident. Tobacco use while breastfeeding showed no change in cognitive outcomes. These reductions in cognitive abilities were not seen in babies who never breastfed, suggesting a direct link between alcohol in breastmilk and reduced function. The authors state that although the relationship between alcohol consumption, breastfeeding and cognitive reductions was small, it could be significant when mothers consume alcohol regularly or binge drink.

Editor’s note: A solicited commentary, “Maternal Alcohol Use During Lactation and Child Development,” will be published in the same issue of Pediatrics.