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Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):1030-5.

Infant-feeding methods and childhood sleep-disordered breathing.

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West Virginia University, Department of Psychology, 1124 Life Sciences Building, PO Box 6040, Morgantown, WV 26506-6040, USA.



Childhood sleep-disordered breathing has an adverse impact on cognitive development, behavior, quality of life, and use of health care resources. Early viral infections and other immune-mediated responses may contribute to development of the chronic inflammation of the upper airway and hypertrophic upper airway lymphadenoid tissues underlying childhood sleep-disordered breathing. Breastfeeding provides immunologic protection against such early exposures. Therefore, we sought to explore whether sleep-disordered breathing severity would differ for children who were breastfed as infants.


The parents or guardians of 196 habitually snoring children (mean +/- SD: 6.7 +/- 2.9 years old) who were undergoing overnight polysomnography at Kosair Children's Hospital Sleep Medicine and Apnea Center completed a retrospective survey on the method(s) used to feed the child as an infant.


Among habitually snoring children, those who were fed breast milk for at least 2 months had significantly reduced sleep-disordered breathing severity on every measure assessed, including apnea-hypopnea index, oxyhemoglobin desaturation nadir, and respiratory arousal index. Breastfeeding for longer than 5 months did not contribute additional benefits.


Our findings support the notion that breastfeeding may provide long-term protection against the severity of childhood sleep-disordered breathing. Future research should explore mechanism(s) whereby infant-feeding methods may affect the pathophysiology of development of childhood sleep-disordered breathing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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