2017 17 MAG
Type of content: news
Communicative register:
Focus area: Physicians

Breastfeeding, maternal asthma and wheezing in the first year of life

Breastfeeding confers protection against wheezing among infants born to mothers with asthma

Wheezing is among the most common causes of hospitalisation and healthcare utilization during infancy  and it is associated with significantly reduced lung function and increased asthma risk in adolescence. Identifying prevention strategies to reduce early wheezing is therefore an important public health priority with significant economic implications. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of wheezing by preventing respiratory infections, promoting lung growth, and supporting maturation of the immune system. In particular, in a recent color study on 2773 infants it has been observed a strong protective association between breastfeeding and wheezing in the first year of life, particularly among infants born to mothers with asthma. This association was especially evident in male infants and in those who were breastfed for longer duration. Moreover, the observed protective associations was significant for exclusive breastfeeding and partial breastfeeding supplemented with complementary foods, whereas the association for partial breastfeeding supplemented with formula before 6 months was not significant. Therefore, the longer and exclusive was breastfeeding, the less was the risk of wheezing during the first year of life, namely in male infants born to asthmatic mothers. These results support the endorsement of breastfeeding as a cost-effective strategy to prevent infant wheezing and promote lifelong respiratory health.

Ref: Azad MB, et al; and the CHILD Study Investigators. Breastfeeding, maternal asthma and wheezing in the first year of life: a longitudinal birth cohort study. Eur Respir J. 2017;49(5).

Article by Giuliana Ferrante