Inger Kull, RN, and colleagues from the Department of Occupational
and Environmental Health in Stockholm , Sweden, evaluated the relationship
between breastfeeding and asthma in 4,089 newborns. Data was collected
from the parents on symptoms related to wheezing and other allergic
diseases in their child at one, two and four months of age. Data
on breastfeeding was collected after 1 year of age. Exclusive breastfeeding
was defined as the period when the infants were given only breast
milk, and no cow's milk or solid foods had been introduced.
> Four year olds who had been exclusively breast-fed
for the first four months showed a lower risk of asthma.
> 9.1% of children exclusively breast-fed for
less than 4 months had asthma, compared to 6.4% among children
breast-fed 4 months
> Continued partial breastfeeding after exclusive
breastfeeding also had a protective effect.
> The protective effects of breastfeeding were
greatest among children whose parent(s) did not have asthma or
The researchers had previously showed the same results in children
at 2 years of age. This study expands on those findings, showing
that a more prolonged period of breastfeeding not only reduces
the risk of asthma during the first four years of life, but it
also appears to reduce the severity of the disease as well.