Kids who are breastfed during infancy are more likely to recover from stuttering and return to fluent speech, according to a new study.
The analysis found a dose-dependent association between breastfeeding and a child's likelihood of recovering from stuttering, with children who were breastfed longer more likely to recover.
Boys, who are disproportionately affected by stuttering, appeared to benefit the most.
Boys in the study who breastfed for more than a year had approximately one-sixth the odds of developing persistent stuttering than boys who never breastfed, the team found.
The researchers, University of Illinois speech and hearing science professor emerita Nicoline Ambrose and doctoral student Jamie Mahurin-Smith (now at Illinois State University), found no evidence that income or maternal education had any influence on stuttering in their sample.
The researchers questioned the mothers about their children's willingness and ability to breastfeed, and also found no evidence of an underlying neurological problem that could have inhibited the children's ability to breastfeed and to speak fluently later in life.
"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," Mahurin-Smith said.
"These findings could improve our understanding of stuttering persistence and recovery," the researcher said.
The study is published in the Journal of Communication Disorders.