Breastfeeding reduces asthma risk


Breastfed kids have better lung function and lower risk of asthma when compared to formula babies. Two new studies reveal their results this month.

Past studies have found conflicting results when it comes to the benefits of breastfeeding on the development of lung function. Some research suggests that moms with asthma who breastfeed may actually be putting their kids at risk. New research contradicts this. Babies with asthmatic moms get just as much benefit from breastfeeding, maybe even more, when compared to asthma-free moms.

“I think the evidence is that breastfeeding increases lung volume, independent of if the mother is asthmatic or not,” said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus, who studies asthma at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “If the lung volume is increased, then you are less susceptible to get asthma. It’s important even to tell asthmatic mothers to breast feed their children.”

One long term study out of the UK followed 1500 kids from birth to age 8 to 14 through surveys and physical exams. Dr. Claudia Kuehni from the University of Bern, Switzerland and her team found that the longer kids were breastfed, the better they performed on the measure of speed of air coming out of the lungs. Better lung function was not related to the a history of fewer childhood respiratory infections which seems reassuring.

The lung boost provided by breastfeeding might not make a difference to a healthy kid, but kids susceptible to lung disease, the breastfeeding may provide protection.

In a second study from New Zealand, researchers also tracked children from birth to age six but rather than testing the kids, they were surveyed for particular kinds of symptoms. They found exclusive breastfeeding was linked to a 9% drop in asthma risk.

Source: Reuters, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Journal of Pediatrics


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