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Newborn and Infant Care

Asthma

11/11/1997

Question:

I have a question about breastfeeding and asthma. I have a friend who has an asthmatic 2 year old, and is now pregnant. She would like to know if breastfeeding her baby will help reduce the chance of her baby getting asthma, and how much it would reduce it. She did not breastfeed her two year old. Thank you very much.

Answer:

Asthma is an intermittent, reversible, obstructive airway disease that often develops in childhood. The research regarding development of asthma with breastfeeding is conflicting, but generally supportive of breastfeeding. In 1977 Blair reported that more children who had not been breastfed had more severe asthma compared with those children who had been breastfed. In 1988 the Italian Collaborative Study of 303 infants showed that 64% of those with asthma had not been breastfed, compared with 46% who had been breastfed for a week or less and 35% who had been breastfed eight or more weeks. For your friend to give her baby the best start in life she should breastfeed, not just in hopes of preventing asthma, but to provide many other essential nutrients found only in breastmilk.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati