Mamas on Bedrest: I Breastfed My Children But They Still Have Asthma and Allergies.

August 5th, 2011

My Daughter will turn 9 this October. I can hardly believe the tiny baby that I cradled on my forearm is now almost my height (not saying much given that I am only 5ft tall, but still!) and sassing her way into the tween years! At almost 9 she is in the 50% for height and the 95% for weight. Although asthma once plagued her, she has not had an attack since 2007. She has several food allergies, but as evidenced by her growth pattern, she has thrived.

I knew that my children would be at great risk for a myriad of diseases because of my husband and my combined histories. We both have asthma histories, and my husband was admitted to the hospital frequently as a child with asthma attacks. We both have allergies and I have eczema. Both our families have strong histories of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. By some accounts, perhaps we should not have gotten together. But as we did, I wanted to do everything possible to give my children the best possible chance. So I chose to breastfeed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) recommends that all infants be breastfed for the first year of life. According to the AAP and the Office of Women’s Health, www.womenhealth.gov, breastfeeding has many benefits for infants and children including:

  • Fewer incidences of vomiting and diarrhea in the US (20-35 million episodes of diarrhea occur in children under the age of 5, resulting in over 200,000 hospitalizations and 400-500 deaths in the U.S.)
  • Protection against gastroenteritis, necrotizing entercolitis
  • Reduced risk of chronic constipation, colic, and other stomach upsets
  • Reduced risk of childhood diabetes
  • Protection against ear infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney infections, septicemia (blood poisoning),
  • Protection against allergies, asthma, eczema, and severity of allergic disease
  • Reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) Statistics reveal that for every 87 deaths from SIDS, only 3 are breastfed.
  • Protection against meningitis, botulism, childhood lymphoma, crohn’s disease and ulcerative entercolits
  • Decreased risk of tooth decay (cavities)
  • Nursing promotes facial structure development, enhanced speech, straighter teeth and enhances vision.
  • Breastfed infants develop higher IQ’s, and have improved brain and nervous system development; IQ advantage of 10-12 points studied at ages 8, 12, and 18. (Breastfeeding is considered the 4th trimester in brain growth and development…there are specific proteins in human milk that promote brain development))
  • Breastfed babies have reduced risk of heart disease later in life
  • Breastfed babies have Increased bone density
  • Breastfeeding plays an important role in the emotional and spiritual development of babies
  • Breastfed babies enjoy a special warm bonding and emotional relationship with their mothers
  • Antibody response to vaccines are higher in breastfed babies
  • Breastfed babies are hospitalized 10 times less than formula fed infants in the first year of life
  • The colostrum (first milk) coats the GI tract, preventing harmful bacteria and allergy -triggering protein molecules from crossing into baby’s blood
  • Breastfeeding decreases the risk for vitamin E and Iron deficiency anemia
  • Breastfeeding decreases the risk for acute appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, inguinal hernia, pyloric stenosis
  • There are factors in human milk that destroy E coli, salmonella, shigella, streptococcus, pneumococcus….and many others
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity
  • I don’t know how many (if any) of these potential health threats my children avoided by being breastfed. Some may argue that my breastfeeding was a total failure given my daughter has asthma and food allergies to milk, peanuts, fish and egg, has seasonal pollen allergies and is allergic to many dogs and cats. My son is allergic to peanuts, is lactose intolerant and has eczema.

    Despite these apparent failures, my children have never had strep throat. They have each had only one ear infection. My daughter has not missed a day at school for illness in 2 years and my son has only missed a day or two for minor viral illnesses.

    So to what do I credit my children’s health? I am sure that there are many reasons that they are healthy, but I believe that a firm foundation got them started and I believe that foundation was created in part by breastfeeding both of them.

    Are you planning to breastfeed your children? Why or why not? Share your comments in the comments section below. Need help making a decision? Sign up for a Complimentary 30 minute Bedrest Breakthrough session by e-mailing info@mamasonbedrest.com. Check us out on Facebook and on Twitter, @mamasonbedrest.

    4 responses to “Mamas on Bedrest: I Breastfed My Children But They Still Have Asthma and Allergies.”

    1. Hi!

      I was in the same Pathfinder session as you. Although, we didn’t get a chance to meet personally!

      I’m glad that Renee has us all connected, because I would have missed out on your cool blog. I love what you’re doing here for women’s health!

      Jen 🙂

    2. Oh, wait! I meant to respond about breastfeeding!! I’m breastfeeding for the nutritional value. Researchers seem to be finding new beneficial nutrients in breast milk that they didn’t ever know were there to add to formula. What if there are even more that we don’t know about?

      Also, I am completely dumbfounded about how if a baby catches a virus, they can pass it back to the mother through the breast. Then, the mother creates the antibody and passes it back in the next feed. What??? That amazes me!!

      I had a very difficult time, but I persisted because I was determined to figure out how my body worked. For over 250,000 generations, humans have been breastfeeding their babies. It is only the last few that formula feeding has become popular. Something that I think about.

      That being said, I am also very aware how difficult breastfeeding can be and how everyone’s situations are different. Even though I am a big fan of breastfeeding, i am still supportive of moms who can’t. I have a mom friend that suffered from PPD and by giving up breastfeeding, she was able to be a better mom to her baby.

      Jen 🙂

    3. Frances says:

      I can tell you that your children seem to have excellent facial structure, from the picture.

      I think the asthma and allergies may have been impossible to avoid in this generation, given your family history. But you have gone long way to minimizing the risk for your grandchildren.

    4. Darline says:

      Frances,
      Yes, my kiddos have fared well, despite our family history. I do indeed hope that I in some way reduced their symptoms.
      They are very healthy and rarely get sick, so I am thinking that the breastfeeding has had some effect. One never knows,
      but I still stand by my decision. I think it gave them the best start.

      Thanks so much for your reply.

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