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Breastfeeding May Reduce Fevers After Immunizations

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The first time our eldest son had to get a shot, I wept.  I simply couldn’t stand the thought that he was in pain.  Fortunately, I was breastfeeding, and I stuck him on my boob as soon as the doctor was done.  Sure enough, the crying stopped.

Now, a new study shows that breastfed babies are less likely to get fevers after immunizations than babies who are partially breastfed or who receive formula.  The study, which was done at a vaccination center in Naples, Italy, was published in the June issue of Pediatrics. From the site WebMd:

“Infants in the new study had received their first or second dose of the combination vaccine to prevent six diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type B, poliovirus, and hepatitis B co-administered with a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal meningitis. The moms were taught how to take temperatures rectally and told to take their infants’ temperature on the night that the shots were given and for the following three days.

Of 460 infants, 25% of infants who were exclusively breastfed developed a fever, as did 31% of infants who were partially breastfed and 53% of those who were exclusively formula-fed. The protective effects of breastfeeding held even after researchers took into account other risk factors for fever such as vaccine dose, maternal smoking, maternal education, and the presence of other children in the household…

Exactly why breastfed infants are less likely to develop a fever after getting shots is unclear, but breast milk may contain certain anti-inflammatory substances that could potentially reduce fever risk. It may also be due to the fact that breastfed infants are less likely to stop eating when they don’t feel well because breastfeeding provides a sense of comfort during illness…

‘It could be that there is some anti-inflammatory protective benefit in breast milk,” says Natali Aziz, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. She tells WebMD that she routinely encourages new moms to breastfeed. “There is a significant amount of data and research that maternal antibodies are transferred during breastfeeding and can be protective against viral infections.’”



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