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Breastfeeding 'strengthens lungs'

A new study suggests that the hard work involved in breastfeeding for babies may help to strengthen their lungs.
A new study has suggested that breastfeeding may equip babies and infants with stronger lungs well into their childhood.

The study of 1,456 10-year-olds on the Isle of Wight whose progress had been studied since birth, conducted by UK and US scientists, found that those who were breastfed for at least four months had much better lung function.

Researchers claim that their results may prove that breastfed babies are less susceptible to developing asthma and other respiratory conditions in later life.

Dr Arshad Syed Arshad, from Southampton and the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre on the Isle of Wight, said: "Analysis of human breast milk has yielded several immunoactive factors and these have been proposed as responsible for the beneficial effects observed.

"Specifically, several studies have reported the protective effects of breastfeeding on lower respiratory infections, which were associated with exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding."

It is thought that the physical effort of sucking milk from a breast, which is three times the power needed to extract milk from a bottle, may also be responsible for the strengthening effect, the researchers say in their study published in the journal Thorax.

Therefore the research team has approached a bottle manufacturer to begin talks on creating a bottle which mimics the action of breastfeeding in order to help women who are unable to breastfeed.

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