Breast-fed children may have a natural protection against celiac, a digestive disease that makes them intolerant of gluten, a protein.
A team at Manchester University, Britain, recently earched on the effect of breastfeeding on the children suffering from celiac, a disease that makes them intolerant of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
AdvertisementThey found the longer a child was breastfed, the lower their risk of the condition, reports the online edition of BBC News.
A number of studies have suggested that early infant feeding practices, as well as genetic factors, may be important in celiac disease.
The Manchester team found a link between breastfeeding and reduced risk of celiac disease.
Those infants who were being regularly breastfed when they were first introduced to foods containing gluten cut their risk of developing celiac disease by 52 percent compared with those who were not being breastfed.
It might be that a child is simply exposed to less gluten during weaning if he or she is being breastfed.
Alternatively, breastfeeding might protect against coeliac disease by preventing gastrointestinal infections in an infant, which can weaken the lining of the bowel and allow gluten to pass deeper into the gut than normal.
Breast milk also contains certain immune cells from the mother that might confer protection against gluten intolerance, they said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends women breastfeed babies for at least six months.