Asthma affects nearly ten percent of children and teens in the United States, is the third leading cause of hospital stays and is a major cause for missed school days. Breastfeeding may be able to combat this chronic childhood disease, however.
A new research study shows that breastfeeding may reduce respiratory symptoms for children who have a genetically predisposition to develop asthma. Research conducted on 368 infants affiliated with Basel-Bern Infant Lung Development group in Switzerland was presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress 2016 in the United Kingdom.
The study shows that infants who have a genetic susceptibility to develop asthma were less likely to experience symptoms of the disease if they were breastfed as infants.
Specifically, researchers found that among the children who carried the 17q21 gene variants (which typically lead to asthma development); the risk of developing respiratory symptoms similar to asthma was 27% lower when the children were breastfed. The data shows that when the children were not breastfed, the respiratory symptoms were more likely to occur.
These results show that breastfeeding may possibly change the effect of gene variants which can cause asthmatic symptoms. Key researcher Dr. Gorlanova states, “As research in this field progresses, we are understanding more and more about the gene-environment interaction for the development of asthma.”