The benefits of breastfeeding as most mothers and healthcare providers know are ten-fold. It is a wonderful way for a mom to bond with her newborn but there are added health benefits as well that a baby derives from being breastfed, even if it's just the first few months of their life. Now a new study adds one more health benefit to the ever-expanding list. Researchers found that children who were exclusively breastfed for the first few months of their lives were less likely to develop eczema.
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can cause itchy red patches on your baby’s skin on places like their cheeks. The area can become more irritated the more it is scratched.
Researchers in the U.S. analyzed the diets of more than 1,500 babies from birth through age 6. Of that group, around 300 children had developed eczema at some point by the time they turned six.
In looking through the data researchers found the children who were exclusively breastfed for at least three months were actually only 48 percent as likely to develop the skin condition by the time they turned six, compared to children who were never breastfed. But researchers also found children in wealthier families and baby’s who had a family history of food allergies were more likely to be diagnosed with the skin condition.
The study’s authors maintain the jury is still out and more research needs to be done on the topic. Doctors are not quite sure what causes eczema and how to entirely prevent it. And though breastfeeding alone may not be able to prevent eczema, there is a chance it can help to protect young children from flare-ups.
Breastfeeding can contribute to boosting a child’s immune system, brain development, and helping a child maintain a healthy weight. There is also some evidence to suggest it protects babies who are born into families who have a history of allergies.
Always keep in mind though nursing may not work for every mother and child. Each situation is different. As the saying goes fed is best. The most important thing is that baby is getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.