Breastfeed fights asthma risk
Sticking to a strict diet of mother's milk during the first four months of a life reduces a child's risk of developing asthma by their eighth birthday.
Breast milk is the optimal food for infants during the first six months of life. While breast feeding, a mother transfers good bacteria, antibodies and proteins that can help thwart infection. The evidence from previous studies on beneficial effects of breast-feeding in relation to development of asthma is conflicting.
To investigate the relation between breastfeeding and asthma and sensitisation during the first 8 years of life, researchers followed 3825 Swedish children up to eight years. The mothers were asked to fill up questionnaires regarding diet intake and overall health of their children at ages 2 months and one, two, four and eight years. The children were screened for asthma symptoms at the age of four and eight years. Out of all the participants, 2370 gave blood and 2564 performed lung function tests at the age of eight years.
It was found that about 12 percent of children who were exclusively breastfed for at least the first 4 months of life developed asthma by age 8 years, compared with 18 percent of those breastfed for a shorter amount of time. It translated into a 37 percent lower risk of asthma for those breastfed for 4 months or longer, after adjusting for other risk factors such as maternal smoking and birth weight. This group of children also had significantly better lung function.
The researchers concluded that breast-feeding for 4 months or more seems to reduce the risk of asthma up to 8 years and has a beneficial effect on lung function.
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