Date of Defense:
May 18, 2010
Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of breastfeeding or feeding breast milk on overall health, asthma (diagnosis and severity) and obesity in children age 5 years and younger who were participants in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) a State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS).
Methods: Using data from the 2003 NSCH, this study assessed health outcomes associated with breastfeeding using multiple linear and logistic regression models.
Results: There was a significant negative association between breastfeeding or feeding breast milk and a child’s need for more medical care compared to other children of the same age (p < .001) with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.975 (0.963, 0.987). Breastfeeding was also negatively associated with the number of preventative care visits (p < .001; = -0.023; 95% CI: -0.031, -0.016).Breastfeeding months was significantly associated with a reduction in BMI class ( = -0.01; 95% CI -0.016, -0.005; p < .001), however the reduction was minimal. Breastfeeding more than 90 days was even more significantly associated with a lower BMI class ( = -0.178; 95% CI -0.237, -0.120; p < .001). When assessing the relationship between months breastfed and overweight (0,1) the adjusted odds ratio for childhood overweight was 0.976 (0.966, 0.986; p < .001), a significant, but very minimal change.
Conclusions: Breastfeeding is associated with better health outcomes and lower risk of overweight in children 5 years and younger, however the change in risk of overweight was minimal.