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Breastfeeding Reduces Asthma Risk

(September 16, 2004 - Exclusive breastfeeding from birth to four months reduces the risk of asthma during the first four years of life, according to a study in the October 2004 Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

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.

Researchers found:

> 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 or more.

> 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 allergies.

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.

Source: AAAAI


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