Researchers claim that babies who are breastfed are at less risk of developing childhood leukemia. The findings were put forward after a new analysis of past research.
During the analysis of the 18 studies, researchers found that infants who were breastfed for six months or longer were 19 percent less likely to develop the disease. The comparison was made with children who were either not breastfed at all, or were provided with mother's milk for less than six months. In a separate set of investigations, researchers found that babies who were breastfed for any duration were 11 percent less likely to develop the disease.
"Even though childhood leukemia is quite rare, the incidence rate increases each year," said Efrat L. Amitay, lead researcher and author of the study, from the University of Haifa, Israel. Amitay analyzed more than 18 peer-reviewed studies published between 1960 and 2014. The studies included data on more than 10,000 children suffering from leukemia and nearly 17,500 children who did not have the disease.
Childhood leukemia occurs rarely, but is one of the most common forms of cancer in children. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 1 in 3 children suffers from childhood leukemia.
“This information can be used by public health authorities to issue nutritional recommendations to health practitioners and parents that may help lower the risk for childhood leukemia," Amitay said, in a statement.
The complete study has been published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.