Breastfeeding May Protect Babies Against IBD Later in Life, Review Study Finds

Breastfeeding May Protect Babies Against IBD Later in Life, Review Study Finds
Breastfeeding newborns and infants can lessen the likelihood that they will develop Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) later in life, new review study shows. And the longer a child is breastfed, the better, its researchers say. The study, “Systematic review with meta-analysis: breastfeeding and the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis,” appeared in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which include both CD and UC, remain poorly understood. But the composition of the gut’s microbiota (the population of microorganisms there) and factors that influence it are increasingly seen as important players in the development and progression of IBD. Research has shown that the gut’s microbiota is particularly susceptible to influences in early infancy. Breastfeeding may alter the development of immune-mediated diseases in many ways, including protecting babies against infections in infancy. Breastfeeding modulates the composition of the gut’s microbiota, and previous research has suggested it can modestly reduce the risk of IBD. However, these results were derived from studies with a number of limitations, such as not accounting for duration of breastfeeding and not assessing risk by geography or ethnicity. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School aimed to conduct a more detailed analysis of the relationship between breastfeeding and the risk of CD and UC. The analysis was centered on 35 studies from 1961 to 2016, and gathered from two popular online sources. A total of 7,536 patients with CD, 7,353 with UC, and 330,222 controls were evaluated. Breastfeeding habits were mostly obtained in the studies from questionnaires. Patients
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