January 28, 2009

Fast food may negate breastfeeding benefit

Breastfeeding may reduce the chance of children developing asthma, but a Canadian researcher says fast-food may negate the breast feeding benefits.

Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj of the University of Alberta finds eating fast-food more than once or twice a week negated the beneficial effects of breastfeeding in protecting children from the respiratory disease.

Like other studies, we found that fast-food consumption was associated with asthma, Kozyrskyj says in a statement.

The research confirmed the findings of many other studies about the benefits of breastfeeding in relation to asthma. Kozyrskyj and colleagues find breastfeeding for too short a time was linked to a higher risk of asthma, or conversely that children exclusively breastfed 12 weeks or longer as infants had a lower risk.

But this beneficial effect was only seen in children who did not consume fast-food, or only occasionally had fast-food, Kozyrskyj said.

The team looked at about 700 Manitoba children, about 250 of whom had asthma and 475 who did not. More than half the children studied ate fast-food more than twice a week, the researcher said.

The researchers suggest the prevalence of fast-food in today's society may explain why asthma rates keep rising even though more mothers are breastfeeding.

The findings are published in the Clinical and Experimental Allergy.