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Breastfeeding absolutely vital for strengthening the developing lungs of children, research finds

Thursday, February 09, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: breastfeeding, lungs, infants

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(NaturalNews) New research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine adds to the growing body of evidence showing that breastfeeding is crucial for proper human development. According to the research, babies who are breastfed develop stronger lungs than their non-breastfed counterparts, even when their mothers have existing respiratory conditions like asthma.

A comprehensive review of published literature on the subject conducted between 2007 and 2011, the new report evaluated 1,500 children from birth up until the time they turned 14 years old, comparing rates of asthma among those who were exclusively breastfed to those who were partially breastfed or not breastfed at all. The team discovered that exclusive breastfeeding was the most powerful method of ensuring strong and healthy lungs that held more air volume and had less air loss.

It has been previously believed by some that asthmatic mothers pass on the condition to their children through breastfeeding, and that breastfeeding for too long increases a child's risk of developing the condition. But the new study shows this to be false, illustrating, in fact, that breastfeeding appears to significantly reduce a child's risk of developing asthma, as non-breastfed children are far more prone to develop this and other respiratory conditions.

A 2011 study published in the European Respiratory Journal, for instance, found that babies fed formula rather than breast milk are 50 percent more likely to develop chronic wheezing. Even supplementing breast milk with other foods was shown to have a detrimental effect, increasing the risk of chronic wheezing by 20 percent compared to exclusively breastfed babies.

"I think the evidence is that breastfeeding increases lung volume, independent of if the mother is asthmatic or not," said Dr. Wilfried Karmaus, an asthma researcher from the University of South Carolina who was not involved in the study, to Reuters. "If the lung volume is increased, then you are less susceptible to get asthma. It's important even to tell asthmatic mothers to breastfeed their children."

In a similar study published last year, French researchers found that children who are fed formula have a significantly higher risk of developing long-term chronic illness than children who are breastfed. That particular study illustrated that children develop substantially different hormonal and metabolic systems depending on whether they are fed breast milk or synthetic formula (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=143886).

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