Breastfeeding may curb child asthma risk

November 13, 2008

At least four months of breastfeeding has been linked to easier breathing and a lower susceptibility to asthma during childhood, according to data published online November 10 in Thorax.

At least four months of breastfeeding has been linked to easier breathing and a lower susceptibility to asthma during childhood, according to data published online November 10 in Thorax.

Researchers studied nearly 1,500 children whose respiratory health was examined at ages 1, 2, 4, and 10. Of about 1,000 children whose data was fully available, 374 had been breastfed for at least four months, while the remaining children had been breastfed for a shorter amount of time, or not at all.

Children who had been breastfed for at least four months had significantly higher forced vital capacity and peak expiratory flow by age 10. These findings remained despite presence of asthma or allergy in the breastfeeding mother.

The investigators speculated that certain chemicals in breast milk that boost the child's immune system may help explain the findings, as well as a difference in effect that breastfeeding may have on the child's lungs, compared to the effect of sucking from a bottle.