A new study done in Naples, Italy, found that infants who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to have fevers after vaccinations than formula-fed infants.
A typical response after vaccinations is a fever and some grumpiness. For some, these fevers may run high enough to warrant parents concerns. However, breastfeeding an infant may be able to reduce the risk of a fever after receiving the shots. The vaccination center in Naples, found that those who were breastfed exclusively were less likely to develop fevers than those who were formula-fed.
A total of 460 infants were watched to see if they became feverish after their vaccinations. Only 25 percent of the exclusively breastfed infants developed a fever. Nearly twice as many formula fed infants also developed fevers, about 53 percent. The infants who were only partially breastfed still developed fevers at a higher rate, 31 percent.
“This study suggests that breastfed infants are less likely to have fever after immunization compared with those who are not breastfed,” conclude researchers led by Alfredo Pisacane, MD, a pediatrician at the Università Federico II in Naples, Italy.
The researchers factored for outside influences that may have effected the rates of fevers developed. Factors such as vaccine dose, maternal smoking, maternal education, and the presence of other children in the household were all counted for, yet the positive effects of breastfeeding were still noted.
The reason why breastfeeding better protects against fevers is not yet clear. Breast milk may contain natural anti-inflammatory substances that reduce fevers. Breastfed infants also nurse more because of the comfort it brings, thus getting more fluids.
Laura Wilwerding, MD, a lactation consultant and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says breastfeeding during vaccinations is also a great way to reduce the pain from the shots.
“This is another great reason to breastfeed,” says Laura Wilwerding.
The study is not completely accepted as accurate because mothers were taught to record their infants temperature readings instead of the researchers themselves. Still, the study will be published in the June issue of Pediatrics. – Summer, staff writer
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