Can Breastfeeding Protect Your Baby From Asthma?
These days, many infants suffer from asthma, especially when they’re very young. The problem has a genetic basis.
In other words, if the mother or father has asthma, the baby might as well. Doctors therefore recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies to protect them from asthma.
Breast milk, in addition to being harmless, provides all the nutrients a baby needs. It also protects your baby from many illnesses.
This means it’s very important that a mother breastfeed her baby during the first six months. However, many parents ask: “What is asthma? What are the symptoms? How does breast milk prevent it?
What is asthma?
Asthma is a common respiratory condition for babies in which the respiratory passages become partially or totally obstructed.
Symptoms of asthma in infants
Symptoms of asthma in babies can include: dry cough, persistent phlegm, light panting (as if it’s difficult to breathe), noise or whistling in the chest, and sounding congested when the baby cries.
What are the causes of asthma?
The precise cause of asthma in infants is unknown. However, it may be due to genetic problems or environmental factors. These can include cigarette or cigar smoke, substances that cause allergic reactions, air contamination, or strong smells such as gasoline.
5 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Asthma Protection
It’s known that breast milk can protect your baby from asthma because it provides immunological factors that aren’t in formula. The benefits include the following:
1. Fighting infections and illness
If a mother breastfeeds her child, this reduces the baby’s risk of contracting infections. Some of the illnesses that breast milk fights include: asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, and respiratory infections, among others.
2. Lowering the risk of suffering asthma symptoms
For children who are genetically predisposed to asthma, breast milk lowers the risk of suffering respiratory problems.
3. Providing nutrients
Breast milk, in addition to providing the nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development, also supplies the antibodies the baby needs to face many illnesses, such as asthma.
4. Strengthening the lungs
Mother’s milk strengthens a baby’s lungs. It also transmits immunoglobulin. This protects against allergies and asthma.
5. Supporting the immune system
Due to the lactoferrin, bifido factor, and lipid content, breast milk helps babies have a strong defensive system. Consequently, their immune system is stronger.
Other Advantages of Breast Milk
In addition to the benefits listed above which help protect against asthma, breastfeeding has other advantages:
- Easy for your baby to digest when they are sick.
- Improves the relationship between mother and child and leads to emotional stability.
- Comforts your baby when he or she is sick or tired.
- Relaxes the mother.
- Reduces the risk of post-partum hemorrhage.
- Has a lower risk of contamination because it comes directly from the mother’s breast.
- Aids in the baby’s intellectual development.
- Fights stress.
- Strengthens the immune system because it contains iron.
- Prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“Breast milk, in addition to being harmless, provides all the nutrients a baby needs.”
What Nutrients Does Breast Milk Contain?
Breast milk contains live cells that support your baby’s growth and development. Additionally, it contains carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
It’s also a source of fatty acids and amino acids. All these nutrients are essential for your baby’s development. It’s important to nurse if you can to make sure your baby gets what he or she needs.
In conclusion, protecting your baby from asthma is an important task that every mother can do by breastfeeding.
Nursing is recommended for at least the first six months of your baby’s life. Breastfeeding helps your baby grow up healthy and strong.
As an added benefit, the skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between mother and child, and raises self-esteem. It’s a unique, magical moment that all mothers experience and that greatly helps with healthy development.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Huo X, Chu S, Hua L, et al. The effect of breastfeeding on the risk of asthma in high-risk children: a case-control study in Shanghai, China. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018;18(1):341. doi:10.1186/s12884-018-1936-5
- NHS UK. Breastfeeding ‘cuts childhood asthma risk’. [Avaiable online].
- Oddy W, H: Breastfeeding, Childhood Asthma, and Allergic Disease. Ann Nutr Metab 2017; 70 (2): 26-36. doi: 10.1159/000457920