NEW YORK – Kids who were breastfed as babies may have better lung function, and a lower risk of asthma, than those who were formula-fed, two new reports suggest.
Researchers said that past studies have found conflicting results when it comes to the effects of breastfeeding on kids’ lungs, with some research suggesting that moms with asthma who breastfeed may be putting their kids at risk as well.
But the new research hints that’s not the case, and that babies with asthmatic moms may get just as much benefit from breastfeeding, if not more, compared to those with asthma-free mothers.
“I think the evidence is that breastfeeding increases lung volume, independent of if the mother is asthmatic or not,” said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus, who studies asthma at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and wasn’t involved in the new work.
“If the lung volume is increased, then you are less susceptible to get asthma,” he told Reuters Health. “It’s important even to tell asthmatic mothers to breastfeed their children.”
In one study, published Friday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, about 1,500 UK kids were followed from their birth in the mid-1990s.
Families responded to surveys related to breastfeeding as well as secondhand smoke exposures and other known asthma risks starting when kids were babies. At age eight to 14, the kids came into the lab for a range of lung function and allergy tests.
Dr. Claudia Kuehni from the University of Bern, Switzerland and her colleagues found that the longer kids were breastfed, the better they performed on one test, measuring the speed of air coming out of the lungs.
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