Breastfeeding Research: November and December 2017

Breastfeeding in infancy protects against the future development of Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), according to new research. The protection conferred by breastfeeding increased with duration of breastfeeding, with strongest decrease in risk seen when the child was breastfed for at least 12 months for CD and UC versus 3 or 6 months. The researchers concluded that breastfeeding confers protection against the development of CD and UC. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, November 2017.

Breastfeeding for at least two months cuts a baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome almost in half. Breastfeeding for less than two months did not provide this benefit. As one researcher said: “The other important finding from our study is that any amount of breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS — in other words, both partial and exclusive breastfeeding appear to provide the same benefit.” Pediatrics, November 2017.

Direct breastfeeding provided more protection against asthma than expressed breast milk. Pediatrics, November 2017.

Exclusive breastfreeding may protect against flexural dermatitis or flexural eczema. JAMA Pediatrics, online November 13, 2017

In Bangladesh, of the 1918 infants studied, 56% were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. This study found that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months could have prevented around 27.37% of reported diarrhea and 8.94% of the acute respiratory disease cases. Breastfeeding prevents many diseases, and the two researchers, in their own words, explain why: “The mechanisms through which breastfeeding have protective effects on infectious diseases are multiple. Firstly, human milk has specific immunologic properties that protect the infants from infection. Secondly, the array of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory protection, and bioactive molecules and compounds of breast milk create protections against infection. Thirdly, breast milk promotes mucosal maturation, stimulating neonatal immune systems; limits exposure to the germs from foreign dietary antigens.” BMC Public Health, November 21, 2017.

Crohn’s disease is preventable by breastfeeding. Crohn’s disease has reached epidemic proportion and the published paper explains why this is due to women abandoning breastfeeding for infant formula. Advanced Research in Gastroenterolotgy & Hepatology, December 2017.

More than 10,000 teenagers were studied regarding weight. Those who were breastfed had lower odds of being overweight or obese at age 14. Centre of Longitudinal Studies Report, December 7, 2017.

Sheila Kippley

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