Study finds at least 4 to 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding best,,
MONDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding seems to provide an immune system boost to infants, helping to prevent respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses in babies, according to new research.
Babies who were breast-fed exclusively for 4 months, and then partially until they were 6 months old, had a reduced risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections compared to babies who had never been breast-fed, the Dutch team found.
"Exclusive breast-feeding reduces respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in infancy," said the study's senior author, Dr. Henriette Moll, a professor of pediatrics at Erasmus Medical Center's Sophia's Children's Hospital in Rotterdam.
"Our results support health policy strategies to promote exclusive breast-feeding for at least 4 months and preferably 6 months in industrialized countries. This is in line with the World Health Organization recommendations for 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding," said Moll.
Results of this study are published online June 21 and in the July print issue of Pediatrics.
Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are the most common sources of illness in children, with respiratory illnesses affecting as many as 32.1 percent of infants and gastrointestinal illnesses occurring in up to 26.3 percent of infants, according to estimates in the study. Upper respiratory illnesses include colds, ear infections and throat infections, while lower respiratory infections include pneumonia, bronchitis and bronchiolitis.
Factors that may increase the risk of a baby developing a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection include birth weight, gestational age, race, socioeconomic status, the number of siblings, day-care attendance and whether or not a parent smokes, the study noted.
One factor that appeared to be protective was breast-feeding.'/>"/>
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