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Breastfeeding builds lung capacity

The exercise that babies get while suckling at the breast is an essential part of the respiratory benefits associated with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding builds lung capacity

The exercise that babies get while suckling at the breast is an essential part of the respiratory benefits associated with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is known to help protect babies from developing lung infections, but studies whether it may reduce their risk of asthma later in life have had mixed results. To investigate, researchers from America looked at lung function in 1,033 children who were 10 years old and were followed since birth. It was found that children who were breastfed for 4 months or longer had larger lung capacities than their counterparts who had been nursed for a shorter amount of time or not at all. The breastfed children were also able to expel air from their lungs more quickly. The lung function in children who had been breastfed for a shorter amount of time wasn't significantly different from the lung function of children who weren't breastfed at all. The pressure nursing babies exert on the breast before milk begins to flow is triple than that required when drinking from a bottle. Nursing sessions also tend to last for 8 minutes, on an average, as compared with the 4 minutes spent for bottle-feeding. Nursing four to eight times a day also helps prepare children for a lifetime of physical fitness. While the children's speedier exhalations could have been related to the beneficial components of breast milk, the lung capacity cannot be really explained by the immune factors in the breast milk. Instead, the harder work required of babies who drink from the breast rather than a bottle is a more likely explanation, though further studies are needed for confirming this.
Thorax
November 2008
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