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Breast-feeding Fights Disease

Credit: stock.xchng. No usage restrictions. (Image credit: stock.xchng. No usage restrictions.)


Studies have shown that breast-fed children do better at beating disease and have marginally higher IQs later in life. The revelations have fueled a boom in the United States, where breast-feeding is at a 20-year high.

Yet there are still stigmas. Angelina Jolie created a fuss recently (at least a fuss for some) with her photo of a partially exposed breast-feeding breast on the cover of W magazine.

Meanwhile, a new study of 7,000 children age 6-15 finds those breast fed for six months had much lower rates of asthma.

"Our research demonstrates that exclusive breast-feeding prevents the development of allergic diseases in children," said Mohammad Shamssain of the University of Sunderland. The work was presented at the European Respiratory Society in Berlin last week.

Further, breast-feeding for six months or longer is associated with a lower risk of some types of breast cancer for the mother, according to a study released in August by the American Cancer Society.

Yet in most studies, the benefits of breast-feeding are found to be relatively minor compared to other health factors. And breast-feeding is not for everyone. Some children don't take to it, and it may be impractical for some mothers (say, single moms working long hours). For some women in some cultures or towns, finding a place to do it without creating a fuss can be a challenge.

The excuse that it causes saggy breasts, however, doesn't hold up.

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Robert Roy Britt
Robert Roy Britt

Robert is an independent health and science journalist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former editor-in-chief of Live Science with over 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked on websites such as and Tom's Guide, and is a contributor on Medium (opens in new tab), covering how we age and how to optimize the mind and body through time. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.