Breastfeeding Benefits: Lowering Future Asthma Risks

Most of us can, medical professionals included, agree that breastfeeding is generally the best option for babies. Obviously, some of us need to use other options for any one of a number of reasons that make breastfeeding difficult. And no one should ever feel ashamed of not breastfeeding. But there are health benefits to breastfeeding that are hard to ignore and one that was recently discovered which has us a little surprised. A recent study shows that it may lower asthma risk in children or possibly even reduce other respiratory-related issues down the road. 

Breastfeeding Benefits: Study Reveals it May Lower Asthma Risk

In a recent study by Acta Paediatrica, exclusive breastfeeding for the first three months of life was linked to a much lower risk of developing allergies and asthma by age six—but only if they had no underlying family history of asthma. Breastfeeding benefits study details: 

  • 1,177 mother and infant pairs were included in this review study.
  • Over 32% of the babies were breastfed until 3 months. 

Overall, the results were promising for those who breastfed exclusively pointing to a likely benefit of breastfeeding that had heretofore been mostly ignored. The asthma risk factor was reduced to 0.66, as long as the children had no genetic predisposition to the condition. 

According to Science Daily, combining breastfeeding with formula is believed to be insufficient in lowering the risk for developing any type of respiratory disease, including asthma.

Breastmilk Benefits and the Airway

Breastfeeding produces antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory substances that enhance immune development. Overall, this boosts an infant’s immune system and strengthens their defense measures against infections and microbes that often arise during the first few years of life, including:

  • Influenza - The flu can lead to fever, cough and body aches. In severe cases, it can make it difficult to breathe.
  • RSV - An infection of the respiratory tract. Severe cough and wheezing can make breathing difficult in some cases.
  • Croup -Airways can swell, leading to breathing troubles and a barking cough. 
  • Bronchitis - When the bronchial tubes become inflamed, children experience a cough to move mucus out of the lung’s airways.
  • The Common Cold - Many babies experience a cold early in life and most are nothing to be concerned about.

Most babies and children will breeze right through a respiratory bug, but those with underdeveloped lungs or underlying health problems may struggle. Breast milk helps with cell formation, which can help airways develop properly. 

Beyond Breastfeeding Benefits: Clean Air and Asthma

The environment in which a baby lives is vital to overall lung function and respiratory health. While breastmilk may play a major factor in present and future lung health, clean air is also vital for a baby to thrive. 

Having a professional air quality or HVAC company evaluate the home for underlying mold and bacteria might be a good start. They can replace or add a HEPA filter and install an air purifier if needed. In some cases, air duct cleaning may help by removing impurities and pollutants from the air. Keeping smoke, pet dander and other allergens out of the home may also help aid in proper lung development.  

If at all possible, breastfeeding for at least three months should at least be considered by many parents in the interests of child development. Breastmilk helps tiny humans thrive and the benefits are many, including protecting tiny lungs for years to come. Breastmilk truly is liquid gold.

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8/17/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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