Our understanding of how breast-feeding can reduce the risk of children developing asthma, has been further reinforced by a recent study from University Campus Suffolk and the University of Bern.1
The research was based upon an analysis of 117 studies published between 1983 and 2012, examining childhood asthma. The pooled research found that breastfeeding was linked to a lower risk of asthma, especially in children up to two years of age.
Children with a family history of asthma were excluded from the study. Instead, it focused on children who had never had asthma, had asthma in the last 12 months, or had experienced some kind of wheezing. The study also examined the length of time children had been breast fed for, and the exclusivity of breast-feeding. The results found an association between breast-feeding and reduced incidence of asthma in all categories.
There are some limits to the study, including that there is no comparison to bottle-fed children, while some of the studies were arguably open to bias. However, this study adds to the general body of evidence and consensus that breast feeding benefits both mother and child.
These benefits include reduced breast and ovarian cancer risk for the mother, and reduced risk of infection for the baby.
1 Dogaru CM, Nyffenegger D, Pescatore AM, et al. Breastfeeding and Childhood Asthma: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology. Published online April 11 2014