Breastfeeding Linked To Lower Risk Of Allergies And Asthma

Around 83.2% of new mothers start out breastfeeding their babies – as found in a report on breastfeeding by the CDC. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their lives. There are many known benefits to breastfeeding, but one that was recently discovered (in an Acta Paediatrica study) was its link to a lower risk of respiratory conditions and allergies. The study, which covered 1,177 mother-baby pairs, found that exclusive breastfeeding for three months resulted in a 23% lower risk of these health conditions, albeit only in cases in which children did not have a family history of asthma. Lead author, G Bigman, stated that “Human milk was potentially beneficial in reducing the risk of airway disorders among children,” recommending exclusive breastfeeding for at least three months.

Making Breastfeeding Easier

Around 32% of mothers can find breastfeeding a challenge in the first 30 days postpartum owing to cracked nipples. If you have this condition, the good news is that often, simply by changing your position and your latch, you can prevent nipple trauma. On days in which nipples are very painful or sore, meanwhile, giving them a break by pumping for a couple of days can be a big relief. Additional aid can be found in nipple shells (which protect nipples against bra fabric) and nipple shields (which create a buffer between nipples and the baby’s mouth). Speak to your doctor or midwife for additional solutions if you are experiencing pain or soreness.

What Is The Link Between Breastfeeding And Allergies?

La Leche League International echoes The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for six months, since “Substances in human milk coat your baby’s intestines, which prevents microscopic food particles from ‘leaking’ through into your baby’s bloodstream.” When these substances make their way into the bloodstream, while blood cells can mistakenly see them as ‘enemies’. This can cause painful and/or uncomfortable symptoms such as tummy upset, rashes, and watery eyes and noses.

Breastfeeding And Insulin Sensitivity

Another recent study published by academics at the UT Southwestern Medical Center found that breastfeeding enables the delivery of sugar and fat for milk production by changing the way a mother’s body uses insulin. In essence, it changes the insulin sensitivity of organs that supply these nutrients, helping to protect women against diabetes. The researchers concluded that women who have breastfed are protected against insulin resistance/diabetes even decades after having had their baby.

There are many documented benefits of breastfeeding, with recent findings showing it can help reduce babies’ risks of asthma and other allergies. Other studies, meanwhile, show that drinking cow’s milk while breastfeeding can in itself lower a child’s allergy risk (a Chalmers University of Technology study found that a blend of breastfeeding and feeding cow’s milk can reduce a child’s risk of developing food allergies, for instance). If you are having difficulties breastfeeding or wish to learn more about additional options, speaking to your doctor, midwife, or other professionals can help you make a decision that is best for you and your baby.