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Breastfeeding can Reduce Children’s risk of Infections and Allergies

Update Date: Sep 03, 2014 11:32 AM EDT

Several studies have concluded that breastfeeding at the beginning of an infant's life can lead to many health benefits. Now, two recent studies are adding even more evidence that breastfeeding is good for the baby. According to these studies, breast milk can reduce a child's risk of infections and allergies.

In the first study headed by Dr. Ruowei Li from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the researchers examined information gathered during medical office visits. The sample included almost 1,300 children all aged six. The researchers found that children who were breastfed for nine or more months had a lower risk of contracting ear, throat or sinus infections by 31 percent, 32 percent and 53 percent respectively in comparison to children who were not breastfed for a long period of time.

"There was a decrease in infections if the mothers had breast-fed and there was a greater decrease depending on the amount of breast-feeding," Li stated according to Medical Xpress. "Human milk is the best source of nutrition for most newborns and infants. In addition, human milk provides immunologic protection against many infections during infancy."

In the second study, the research team headed by Dr. Stefano Luccioli from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition examined six-year-old children as well. However, this study focused on the incidence rate of allergies. They found that children who were breastfed only for four or more months were less likely to have a food allergy in comparison to children who were breastfed for a shorter period of time. The team noted that breastfeeding did not reduce the risk of developing allergies in children from high-risk populations, such as families with a history of allergies.

"These articles provide evidence that should inspire new moms to breast-feed their children," Nina Eng, chief clinical dietitian at Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y. stated.

The studies, "Infant Feeding and Long-Term Outcomes: Results From the Year 6 Follow-Up of Children in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II" and "Infant Feeding Practices and Reported Food Allergies at 6 Years of Age" were published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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