Finding only appears to apply to girls, not boys.
Article Courtesy of Reuters.com
By Joene Hendry
Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk for severe lung infection and associated hospitalization among infant girls, but not among infant boys.
The finding comes from a study of babies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Dr. Fernando Polack, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues.
Boys may derive some protection from breastfeeding, noted Polack, but this study may have been too small to sufficiently identify this benefit.
Still, the results mirror previous research conducted in Argentina and the United States, Polack told Reuters Health, and when taken together indicate that “mothers of girls should pay close attention to the importance of breastfeeding to protect their infant’s lungs.”
The investigators assessed how breastfeeding altered the risk for pneumonia and hospitalization among 323 infants who developed an acute respiratory infection at an average age of 4.6 months.
Overall, 77 percent of the infants were breastfed, Polack’s team reports in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.
Viral pneumonia developed in 23 percent of the formula-fed girls versus 5 percent of the breastfed girls. Hospitalization was necessary more frequently among formula-fed girls (38 percent) compared with breastfed girls (18 percent).