A new study looking at the association between breastfeeding in infancy and the development of MS has concluded that breastfeeding your baby could prevent them from developing MS in later life.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease which has acknowledged genetic and environmental triggers. Breastfeeding is known to boost the immune system of new-born babies and prevent a range of conditions, including some autoimmune diseases. This study was designed to look at the correlation between MS Sufferers and Non-MS Sufferers and their breast feeding history in infancy.
The research, conducted in Berlin, surveyed 245 people with MS and 296 people who do not suffer from MS. They each completed a questionnaire about whether they were breastfed as babies and for how long. The survey also asked questions about the demographic of each subject.
Researchers then used two methods of analysis to measure for an association between breastfeeding and MS; univariable (where they just looked at whether the individual was breastfed and whether they had MS) and multivariable, where the researchers analysed breastfeeding and MS and took into account age, gender, number of older siblings, number of people living at home from birth to 6 years, and day care attendance up to the age of 3.
The questionnaire analysis showed that there was a link between whether the person was breastfed and the development of MS. In the multivariable study, where researchers made accounts for demographic and possible genetic or environmental factors, the study implied that breastfeeding a baby past 4 months reduced the chances of developing MS by around 42%.
This study supports the hypothesis that breast feeding can offer some level of protection against Multiple Sclerosis, as it does for other autoimmune diseases and opens another area of research into the causes and treatment of MS.
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