It is almost impossible to open an issue of Pediatrics and not find a study or policy in support of breastfeeding, many providing a look at a short- or long-term benefit of this nutritional practice for infants at least for the first year of life. This month we add to the support for breastfeeding with a somewhat unusual but important finding—the role of breastfeeding in reducing the risk of Kawasaki Disease (KD).
Yorifuji et al. (peds.2015-3919) used a longitudinal population-based cohort in Japan that began in 2010 and that had data on 37, 630 children and their feeding method at 6-7 months of age as well as data on hospital admission from 6 to 30 months of age. There were 232 hospitalizations for Kawasaki Disease and those infants who were breastfed exclusively or partially were found to be less likely to be hospitalized for KD.
Just why and how breastfeeding might be decreasing the risk of developing KD makes for an interesting discussion section of this article relative to the maturation of the immune system that may be occurring through this feeding method. The next time you have a patient with KD, you might want to ask about whether or not they were breastfed. If you’re looking for yet another reason why breastfeeding is best, read this paper and add it to the overwhelming evidence that exists in our quest to promote breastfeeding to the mothers of all our newborns.