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Breastfeeding Better for Girls

Breastfeeding Better for Girls

Reported June 04, 2008

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – New information reveals breast milk may benefit girls more than boys, especially when it comes to preventing respiratory infections.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center followed 119 premature babies from Buenos Aires through their first year of life and found girls were protected more by breast milk than boys. In addition, girls fed formula had the greatest risk for severe respiratory infections. They were eight times more likely to be hospitalized for serious respiratory infections shortly after birth than breast-fed girls.

The results of this study contradict the theory that breast milk prevents infections in babies by providing immune system chemicals. Researchers say breast milk does not prevent babies from getting infections; rather, it helps them manage infections better.

“In light of these results, we are starting to think that milk does not directly transfer protection against lung infections but instead switches on a universal protective mechanism, already in the baby, that is for some reason easier to turn on in girls than in boys,” senior investigator Fernando Polack, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Hopkins Children’s in Baltimore, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, 2008;121:e1510-e1516

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