Posted April 25, 2013

Kids who were breastfed as babies may have better lung function, and a lower risk of asthma than those who were formula-fed, two new reports suggest, said Dr Mustafa Kamil Al Kaisi, Specialist Paediatric Endocrinologist, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai.

Research has suggested that asthmatic moms who breastfeed may be putting their kids at risk. But the new research hints that it is not the case and those babies with asthmatic moms may get just as much benefit from breastfeeding, if not more, as those with asthma-free mothers.

“I think the evidence is that breastfeeding increases lung volume irrespective of whether the mother is asthmatic or not. If the lung volume is increased, then you are less susceptible to get asthma. It’s important to tell asthmatic mothers to breastfeed their children,” he said.

Some researchers found that the longer kids were breastfed, the better they performed on tests of forced expiratory flow. On tests of forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in one second, breastfeeding for four months or longer was linked to better scores in kids whose moms had asthma.

The researchers reported that the better lung function did not seem to be related to a history of fewer childhood respiratory infections and the lung boost attributed to breastfeeding might not make a difference for a healthy kid, but on a wider scale, it could mean that breastfeeding would protect more kids from breathing problems. With data on more than 1,000 kids, including about 200 with asthma at their last visit, they found that each month of exclusive breastfeeding was tied to a 9 per cent drop in asthma risk.

Researchers for long surmised that breast milk might carry cells related to allergies and asthma from mother to baby, putting infants of asthmatic moms at risk of breathing problems and suggested mothers with asthma may avoid breastfeeding. But the new findings suggest they shouldn’t worry and babies’ suckling during breastfeeding may strengthen their lungs and help protect them against asthma.

“I don’t think any of that (evidence) is now strong enough to tell moms they should stop breastfeeding because of all the other important benefits that breastfeeding conveys to the child,” he added.

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©2012 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

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