Breastfeeding protects babies from respiratory illness
Feb 7, 2006 - 3:19:37 PM

Breastfeeding could protect babies from respiratory illness, says a study adding to mounting evidence that the longer a mother breastfeeds her infant the greater the health benefits.

Researchers led by Caroline Chantry at the University of California, University of Rochester and the American Academy of Paediatrics conducted an analysis of a survey of 2,277 children aged between 6 and 24 months.

They identified five groups -- formula-fed only, full breastfeeding for less than one month, full breastfeeding from one to four months, full breastfeeding from four to less than six months and full breastfeeding for six months or more. Full breastfeeding allows for the use of formula on less than a daily basis.

They then looked at the percentage of children in each group who experienced pneumonia, wheezing and recurrent (three or more) colds or ear infections. The results showed the protective effects of breastfeeding.

"We found that babies who received an additional two months of full breastfeeding were over four times less likely to contract pneumonia and half as likely to suffer recurrent ear infections," Chantry said.

Chantry and her colleagues found that the health benefits of the additional two months of full breastfeeding continued to protect babies from respiratory illnesses through their second birthdays.

Previous research by others has shown that exclusive breastfeeding for six months also provides greater protection against gastrointestinal infections, she added.

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