Breastfeeding and risk of asthma?

Posted on: Sun, 02/04/2001 - 11:02pm
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

pI figured I would jump onto the band wagon of breastfeeding questions, and see what we come up with. As I have stated on other threads, I breast fed Leah for two years, and consumed many peanuts and walnuts during that time. Leah is allergic to both, and I carry my share of guilt regarding the situation. She does not, however, have asthma. I sometimes wonder if breastfeeding helped prevent her from becoming asthmatic. I am currently breastfeeding my eight month old, but am wondering how long to continue. He isn't quite as "into it" as his big sister was. Sometimes I dream of weaning him and going on the Slim Fast progarm to get rid of my extra pregnancy weight that is still hanging on. Then I think that maybe prolonged breastfeeding (without consuming nuts or peanuts, of course) could help him not to have asthma, too. I'm curious to find out what other's experiences have been. Thanks in advance, Miriam/p
p[This message has been edited by California Mom (edited February 05, 2001).]/p

Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2001 - 12:51am
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well, I am currently nursing my 21 month old and just read the results of a Yale Study in China that saw a 50% reduction in breastcancer for women who breastfed a baby for 2 or more years. THe study found that it didn't matter how old the mother was or how many babies she nursed. Maybe that alone will give you the insentive to keep at it a while longer? I know there are days when I cannot deal with the lack of sleep anymore (she mainly nurses at nights). I feel guilty of the time it takes from my older daughter. But I am aiming at 2 and then have absolutely NO idea how to wean such an older child but I will deal with it then!
I know this doesn't answer your question but thought I would bring up the study anyway

Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2001 - 1:34am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

I breastfed my son for 2 years and he is the only person on my husband's side and my side who has asthma! I enjoyed breastfeeding, but if you don't enjoy it with an older baby you shouldn't feel obliged to do it. As far as weaning a 2-yr-old, I found that as he got more active he was less interested. We just tapered off gradually. Towards the end he only thought of it at naptime and bedtime and so I'd nurse him at those times. Baby-led weaning...no tears! He did not wake up at night to nurse, so I had it easy.

Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2001 - 4:51am
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My understanding is that breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of asthma. I'm convinced that my son could easily have full-blown asthma (instead of occasional wheezing) if I had not breastfed. I don't know when those benefits begin to wear off. The AAP recommends nursing for at least one year, and as long after that as is mutually desirable, and the World Health Organization recommends 2 years.
As for the weight, it is likely you will gain more if you quit nursing. I have a friend who quit for that reason, and she gained more. Of course, it may not be the same for you, but I would keep nursing as long as you and your child enjoy it. If you feel resentful, it's time to wean, in my opinion. I nursed Ben for 13 months (and was ready to quit at 9) and nursed Eliza for 25 months.

Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2001 - 5:42am
Mom to Cayley's picture
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I found a great website which deals with breastfeeding and asthma/allergies, plus it provides links to other topics like 'breastfeeding your toddler'. Excellent site! [url="http://allergies.about.com/health/allergies/library/weekly/aa073100a.htm?rnk=r5&terms=Breastfeeding"]http://allergies.about.com/health/allergies/library/weekly/aa073100a.htm?rnk=r5&terms=Breastfeeding[/url]

Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2001 - 6:12am
Frances's picture
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Joined: 11/28/2000 - 09:00

Specifically to California Mom--first of all--if you had know there was any association with food allergies and what you ate--you certainly wouldn't have eaten peanuts and walnuts. But you didn't know. AND I am not convinced that there is a clear known association. I have seen some research but I don't believe it is significant mostly because the study groups haven't been that big. I nursed all three of my children, each for about 2 years. I am certain with my first that I had minimal (if any) peanut or nut products because they just weren't in my diet. My first born has both asthma (mild) and food allergies to peanuts and walnuts. With my second two children--while I was pregnant with them I did have peanut butter in my diet because I had gestational diabetes and each night I had to have a snack--I had peanut butter. Neither of those two children have allergies or asthma. At any given time we do the best we know how for our children--and breast feeding is just another one of those things we can do to optimize their health. It has no guarantees though!

Posted on: Tue, 02/06/2001 - 3:28am
California Mom's picture
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Thanks so much everyone for all your help. I guess the bottom line is that breastfeeding does have tremendous benefits, and may be helpful towards preventing asthma. I actually really do enjoy nursing Matthew, and I don't want to stop. He nurses four times a day, now, and is usually only super focused on it one or two of the times. He gets easily distracted and sometimes doesn't seem to care one way or another about it. He loves his solid foods and is an excellent eater. He will take formula in a cup or bottle without a second thought, too. I just don't know how long my milk supply will keep up when he isn't that interested. I will keep at it as long as it works. Thanks for all the support; and it's certainly useful to hear other people's experiences that counteract my guilt! Also -as for my extra weight: I think I just need to try to exercise and eat less, even though the slim fast commercials look so tempting!
Miriam

Posted on: Tue, 02/06/2001 - 3:40am
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Hey, you can still use slim fast! My ob/gyn said as long as I kept to a 1800/day caloric intake, dieting while breastfeeding was fine.
That was for a newborn. I think dieting when they are toddlers would be fine as they are really doing it for much of their nutritional needs.

Posted on: Tue, 02/06/2001 - 4:11am
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Joined: 04/09/2000 - 09:00

I agree with Bensmom about the severity of asthma. My son was considered high risk for developing asthma due to an early bout of RSV and food and environmental allergies. He now only has occasional wheezing when he gets a cold.
Keep up the breastfeeding, if that is what you want. My son went his entire second year with only weekend and night nursings. I think if you keep somewhat of a schedule, your milk supply will be fine.
As for dieting, that is probably safe, although I don't know anything about the Slimfast diet. I lost all my pregancy weight by the time he was 10 months old, only to have a few pounds come back after I stopped nursing. I was on a milk/soy/peanut restricted diet and missed some of my favorite foods - like pizza!

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