Increased Breastfeeding Proportion Is Associated with Improved Gross Motor Skills at 3–5 Years of Age: A Pilot Study

Erica E. D’souza, Rutvi Vyas, Michaela Sisitsky, Henry A. Feldman, Borjan Gagoski, Jonathan Litt, Ryan J. Larsen, Matthew J. Kuchan, John B. Lasekan, Brad P. Sutton, Patricia Ellen Grant, Yangming Ou, Sarah U. Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breastmilk provides key nutrients and bio-active factors that contribute to infant neurodevelopment. Optimizing maternal nutrition could provide further benefit to psychomotor outcomes. Our observational cohort pilot study aims to determine if breastfeeding extent and breastmilk nutrients correlate with psychomotor outcomes at school age. The breastfeeding proportion at 3 months of age and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 3–5 years of age were recorded for 33 typically developing newborns born after uncomplicated pregnancies. The association between categorical breastfeeding proportion and neurodevelopmental outcome scores was determined for the cohort using a Spearman correlation with and without the inclusion of parental factors. Vitamin E and carotenoid levels were determined in breastmilk samples from 14 of the mothers. After the inclusion of parental education and income as covariates, motor skill scores positively correlated with breastmilk contents of α-tocopherol (Spearman coefficient 0.88, p-value = 0.02), translutein (0.98, p-value = 0.0007), total lutein (0.92, p-value = 0.01), and zeaxanthin (0.93, p-value = 0.0068). Problem solving skills negatively correlated with the levels of the RSR enantiomer of α-tocopherol (−0.86, p-value = 0.03). Overall, higher exposure to breastfeeding was associated with improved gross motor and problem-solving skills at 3–5 years of age. The potential of α-tocopherol, lutein, and zeaxanthin intake to provide neurodevelopmental benefit is worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2215
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • breastfeeding
  • lutein
  • zeaxanthin
  • α-tocopherol
  • maternal nutrition
  • neurodevelopmental outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Increased Breastfeeding Proportion Is Associated with Improved Gross Motor Skills at 3–5 Years of Age: A Pilot Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this