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Baby boys vs baby girls part II: Breast milk works better for girls

A recent study by American and Argentinian researchers claim that the protective properties of breast milk against respiratory infections works better for baby girls than for baby boys.

The researchers studied 119 babies born with very low birth weights. These babies have a higher risk to develop severe respiratory infections than babies born with normal weight. The study compared the incidence of severe acute lung disease between male and female infants and between breastfed and formula-fed infants.

The results show that breastfeeding significantly decreased the risk of acute lung disease in baby girls but not in baby boys. Formula-fed baby girls showed the highest risk profile, with an 8-times higher risk for respiratory disease.

As such, breastfeeding did not decrease the rate of infections, but rather the severity of the disease and rate of hospitalization.

It has always been previously thought that the transfer of natural immunity from mother to child through breast milk is universal and not dependent on gender. This study shows that there is a gender disparity when it comes to breast milk protection.

Other lessons learned from the study are:

  • Breast milk does not prevent babies from catching the disease but helps babies to fight the infection successfully.
  • Baby girls who are formula-fed have the highest risk to get lung infection.

Despite the gender differences revealed in this study, breast milk is still the best food for babies, regardless of gender. And regardless of what they say about vitamin D deficiency.


PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 6 June 2008, pp. e1510-e1516

HealthDay News, 2 June 2008

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