Breastfeeding – Protective or Not?

  • I remember reading of a study recently that was published in the first November issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine from the American Thoracic Society. In that study, findings were reported that although breastfeeding normally provides some protection from the later development of asthma, mothers with asthma who breastfeed do not transmit the protection. That was disappointing, to say the least.

     

    I mean, if you're a mother with asthma, of course you want to do everything you can to protect your child from your disease. And breastfeeding seemed like a perfectly natural way to do so.

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    But, now there is new hope for breastfeeding moms who want to protect their children from illness.

     

    A new policy statement issued recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP for short), and published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics, suggests that food allergies, asthma, eczema, and other allergic diseases can be delayed or prevented in high risk babies who are exclusively breastfed in the first 4 months of life.

     

    Alternatively, mothers may also be able to get some of the same benefits by using infant formulas made without cow's milk protein. This pertains to the hydrolyzed or hypoallergenic kinds of infant formulas.Not all of the hydrolyzed formulas offer the same level of protection, however.

     

    Further study is needed on this issue before we know for sure about the best ways to protect our high risk youngsters from developing allergic disease. Still, this research is encouraging, though it appears to somewhat  contradict the findings of the study published back in November.

     

    Also, in the AAP recommendations is a lifting of the ban on introducing solid foods to infants in the first 4 to 6 months of life. This is now believed to have no effect one way or the other on the later development of allergic disease.

Published On: January 16, 2008