Breastfeeding associated with higher lung function in African American youths with asthma

J Asthma. 2017 Oct;54(8):856-865. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2016.1266496. Epub 2016 Dec 8.


Objective: In the United States, Puerto Ricans and African Americans have lower prevalence of breastfeeding and worse clinical outcomes for asthma compared with other racial/ethnic groups. We hypothesize that the history of breastfeeding is associated with increased forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) % predicted and reduced asthma exacerbations in Latino and African American youths with asthma.

Methods: As part of the Genes-environments & Admixture in Latino Americans (GALA II) Study and the Study of African Americans, asthma, Genes & Environments (SAGE II), we conducted case-only analyses in children and adolescents aged 8-21 years with asthma from four different racial/ethnic groups: African Americans (n = 426), Mexican Americans (n = 424), mixed/other Latinos (n = 255), and Puerto Ricans (n = 629). We investigated the association between any breastfeeding in infancy and FEV1% predicted using multivariable linear regression; Poisson regression was used to determine the association between breastfeeding and asthma exacerbations.

Results: Prevalence of breastfeeding was lower in African Americans (59.4%) and Puerto Ricans (54.9%) compared to Mexican Americans (76.2%) and mixed/other Latinos (66.9%; p < 0.001). After adjusting for covariates, breastfeeding was associated with a 3.58% point increase in FEV1% predicted (p = 0.01) and a 21% reduction in asthma exacerbations (p = 0.03) in African Americans only.

Conclusion: Breastfeeding was associated with higher FEV1% predicted in asthma and reduced number of asthma exacerbations in African American youths, calling attention to continued support for breastfeeding.

Keywords: Asthma; Hispanics; breastfeeding; exacerbations; genetic admixture; lung function; minority.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Hispanic or Latino* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States