LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BREASTFEEDING AND OVERWEIGHT ON ASTHMA AND RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS IN SCHOOLCHILDREN
Dr. Mohammed Shamssain* and Dr. Saeed Abdulla
Background: Very few studies have looked at the long-term effects of breastfeeding on asthma and allergies. Studies showed an overweight status may negatively affect asthma and allergies. The objectives of the present study was to look at factors affecting the development of asthma and allergies including breastfeeding and overweight. Methods: The present study is part of a large population study in the United Arab of Emirates (UAE). Five thousand and seven hundred and seven schoolchildren studied from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah cities of the UAE. The age range was from 4 to 15 years. The Arabic version of ISAAC questionnaire (the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) was used. All data were computed and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 16.0 (SPSS). Independent T- test was used to compare the mean age, height, weight, BMI percentile and duration of breastfeeding of children. The differences in the proportions of symptoms were compared using Chi- square. Values were significant at P ≤0.05. Results: The prevalence rates of ever wheezed, current wheeze, speech limitation, ever diagnosed with asthma, dry cough, and exercise-induced asthma in children who breastfed 10 months or less were significantly higher than those who breastfed more than 10 months (30.7%, 23.6%, 5.4%, 30.8%, 30.0%, and 23.8% vs. 16.5%, 12.6%, 4.8%, 15.7%, 11.2%, and 13.1%, respectively). The frequency and severity of the above symptoms in overweight children (BMI ≥ 85 percentile) was higher than normal weight children (BMI <85 percentile) (23.6%, 17.4%, 3.1%, 23.7%, 21.7% and 19.2% vs. 18.5%, 13.7%, 3.4%, 18.4%, 15.4% and 11.3 respectively). Conclusion: The present study shows that long period of breastfeeding offer more protection from asthma and respiratory symptoms than short period of breastfeeding. Overweight children or those who have high BMI (BMI ≥ 85 percentile) have significantly higher prevalence rates of asthma and respiratory symptoms than normal weight children (BMI <85 percentile). The study showed a significant association between being obese (BMI ≥ 95 percentile) with dry cough and exercise induced asthma symptoms compared to non obese children ( BMI <95 percentile) (P<0.05). The present study helps to implement intervention strategies to reduce asthma and respiratory symptoms in children.
Keywords: wheezed, current wheeze, speech limitation, ever diagnosed with asthma, dry cough.
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