Breast-feeding does not protect babies from asthma

Breast-feeding does not protect children against developing asthma or allergies, a study suggests. A large trial involving more than 13,000 women and children found no evidence of a protective effect.

Previous research has suggested that breast-feeding helps to boost a baby’s immune system and can protect against respiratory infections. Figures released in May showed that fewer than 1 per cent of women in Britain follow government advice to breast-feed exclusively for the first six months.

The Infant Feeding Survey revealed that 76 per cent of women in 2005 started out breast-feeding, up 7 per cent from 2000. But most had resorted to formula milk within weeks and fewer than half were still breast-feeding by the time their baby was six weeks old. Only one in four women was still breast-feeding at six months.

The new study is published today in the British Medical Journal and involved babies born in 1996-7. Mothers and babies were split into two groups, with the first having breast-feeding promoted and supported in hospitals and polyclinics the women and children attended. In the control group, the hospitals and clinics continued with their normal practices and policies.

Source - Times