Breastfeeding Linked To Immune System Development, Reduced Risk Of Allergies In New Studies

February 22, 2015 9:20 PM

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Breastfeeding Linked To Immune System Development, Reduced Risk Of Allergies In New Studies

Six new studies suggest that the development of an infant's immune system is affected by a number of early-life factors, including breastfeeding, that can shape an infant's susceptibility to certain pathogens. Gestational age -- how long the fetus was in the womb before birth -- and delivery by Cesarean section were two other factors. The studies are being presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Houston, which began Friday and ends Tuesday.

Dr. Christine Cole Johnson, one of the researchers for the studies, said that their findings support what is known as the "hygiene hypothesis," or the idea that childhood exposure to germs and certain pathogens help the immune system's development by teaching the body not to overreact to harmless su...

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