A new study finds those babies get an immune boost that lasts at least two years. Researchers followed more than 2,000 infants, all were breast fed, some for four months, others for six months, and the study shows those extra two months make a big difference. Babies on the breast for six months had five times lower the risk of pneumonia and a two times lower risk of recurrent ear infections.
The study was conducted in part by the American Academy of Pediatrics Center for Child Health Research. Researchers say their findings add to the growing list of breast feeding benefits and show that just a little can mean a big difference in a baby's health. Along with ear and respiratory infections, earlier studies have also proven extra months of breast feeding gives babies extra protection against intestinal infections.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended breast feeding for at least six months. The study is the first to demonstrate that an additional two months of full breast feeding from four months to six months substantially increases an infant's protection against pneumonia and recurrent ear infections.
The research was conducted by investigators at UC Davis Children's Hospital, the University of Rochester, and the American Academy of Pediatrics Center for Child Health Research. The research findings are being presented May 6th at the annual joint meeting of the 2002 Pediatric Academic Societies and American Academy of Pediatrics in Baltimore, MD.