Toronto : Breastfeeding can provide infants protection against asthma or respiratory diseases but fast-food intake can negate the benefits, scientists have found.
A number of findings led the University of Alberta researchers to establish links between fast food and asthma, breastfeeding and asthma, and all three together.
“Like other studies, we found that fast-food consumption was associated with asthma,” said study co-author Anita Kozyrskyj, associate professor of paediatrics in the university’s faculty of medicine and dentistry.
The group did not look at why fast food might cause asthma but the authors suggest the high fat content, and high salt levels – which can increase twitchy airways and wheezing – may be to blame.
The research confirmed the findings of many other studies about the benefits of breastfeeding in relation to asthma.
Kozyrskyj found that breastfeeding for too short a time was linked to a higher risk of asthma, or conversely that children exclusively breastfed 12 weeks or longer as infants had a lower risk.
“But this beneficial effect was only seen in children who did not consume fast food, or only occasionally had fast food,” she added. More than half the children in the study ate fast food more than twice a week.
The researchers suggested the prevalence of fast food in today’s society may explain why asthma rates keep rising even though more mothers are breastfeeding, the university said in a release.
Kozyrskyj conducted the study with Allan Becker while at the University of Manitoba. The team looked at about 700 Manitoba children, about 250 of whom had asthma and 475 who did not.
The article appears online in Clinical and Experimental Allergy.