Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kids’ lungs benefit from longer breastfeeding

Kids’ lungs benefit from longer breastfeeding
Joene Hendry
Children who are breastfed for at least four months may have better lung function than children who are breast fed for shorter periods of time and children who are bottle fed, a new study suggests.
Among 10-year old children, researchers found greater lung function and capacity in those who were breast fed for four months or longer during infancy.
“The physical exercise caused by suckling at the breast – about six times daily on average for more than four months – may result in increased lung capacity and increased airflow in breast-fed children compared with bottle-fed children,” Dr Ikechukwu U. Ogbuanu said.
Dr Ogbuanu, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues studied the feeding practices of infants born in 1989 on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. At the time, breast feeding was predominantly direct suckling from the breast rather than indirect feeding of pumped breast milk from a bottle, the researchers note.
Among the 1,033 children tested when they were 10 years old, 39 per cent had been directly breast fed four months or longer. About 40 per cent of the children had been breast fed for less than four months. Another 21 per cent were not breast fed and therefore comprised the bottle-fed group.
Standard tests showed that the lungs of children who were breast fed for four months or longer were stronger than the lungs of children who were bottle-fed.
The researchers noted no beneficial effects on lung function from shorter duration breast feeding.
The statistically significant increase in lung capacity among children breast fed for four months or longer is likely related to the physical exercise from breast feeding, the investigators say.
“At lease some of the benefits from breast milk may accrue from the process of suckling itself,” noted Dr Ogbuanu. This concept is supported by other studies noting suckling exercise is nearly twice as long during breast feeding compared with bottle feeding, and that breast feeding requires more “ventilatory” effort.
Source: Thorax, January 2009

No comments: