A new study finds breastfeeding can help protect infants against respiratory symptoms if they have a genetic profile linked with a risk of asthma.

The study included 368 infants from the Basel-Bern Infant Lung Development birth cohort in Switzerland. In the study, researchers collected data on occurrence and severity of respiratory symptoms, breastfeeding status and genotyping.

According to the study’s findings, during the weeks that infants were breastfed, those carrying the asthma risk genotypes had a 27 percent decreased relative risk of developing respiratory symptoms, while those who were not breastfed had an increased risk of respiratory symptoms.

“As research in this field progresses, we are understanding more and more about the gene-environment interaction for the development of asthma. Our study sheds light on how this interaction can be modified by breastfeeding. This is the first time that we were able to show the effect of the 17q21 variants on respiratory symptoms during the 1st year of life, depending on breastfeeding status. Our results must be replicated in another cohort,” Dr Olga Gorlanova said.

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