Children Who Breastfeed Are Less Likely to Develop a Persistent Stutter

Nicki Ambrose - professor, speech & hearing scienceNicoline Ambrose, a professor emerita of speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois, and Jamie Mahurin-Smith, who conducted her doctoral work at the University of Illinois and is now at Illinois State University, have found a correlation between stuttering and breastfeeding. The study found that babies who were breastfed as infants and developed stuttering in childhood were more likely to return to more normal speech patterns than stutterers who were not breastfed.

Boys, who are more likely to become stutterers than girls, had a greater benefit from breastfeeding. The results showed that boys who were breastfed for one year or more were one sixth as likely to develop persistent stuttering than boys who never breastfed. Children who were breastfed longer were more likely to recover from stuttering than those who were breastfed for shorter periods.

jmsmit3“We’ve known for years that both genetic and environmental factors contributed to stuttering, but our understanding of the specific environmental variables in play has been murky,” explains Dr. Mahurin-Smith. Dr. Mahurin-Smith is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois.

The authors suggest that essential fatty acids found in breast milk but not in formula products may result in better brain and language development.

The research was published in the Journal of Communication Disorders.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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