Breastfeeding linked to lower asthma risk
Breastfed babies are less likely to have breathing problems when they grow up even if mums have asthma themselves, says a new study
In the study, the lungs of 1,500 children aged 8 to 14 from the UK were looked at and tested on. The researchers from the UK and Switzerland took into account whether they were breastfed as babies and for how long.
Results of the study found that on tests measuring how much air their lungs can hold, children who were breastfed for more than four months, regardless of whether their mums were asthmatic or not, performed better.
“We observed modest improvements in lung function in breastfed children in our cohort, including the children of mothers with asthma,” said Professor Claudia Kuehni, from the University of Bern, Switzerland.
“Our data suggest that rather than acting by reducing respiratory infections, asthma or allergy, breastfeeding might have a direct effect on lung growth.”
This latest study goes against previous findings that have suggested mums with asthma who breastfeed may be causing their child more harm than good by putting their children at risk as well.
Charity Asthma UK have suggested more research is needed.
“This research positively links breastfeeding to improved lung growth and lung function in early life, which would be protective against asthma,” said Leanne Metcalf, assistant director of research at Asthma UK.
“However we are still unclear as to the role of breastfeeding in how the lungs, and any potential asthma symptoms might develop in later life.”
The charity also stated that the advice from the Department of Health today is that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.