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Sara Bijan, Casey L McBride, Stephanie Romero, Maximilian Padilla; The association between visual health in childhood and duration of breastfeeding. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):2413.
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Few studies examine the association between breastfeeding and the long-term visual health of children. The goal of this research is to examine if infants who breastfeed until at least 100 days of life or beyond are less likely to develop visual problems by the age of three compared to those who either never breastfed, or discontinued breastfeeding before 100 days of life.
Data were obtained from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of 95,677 parents concerning various aspects of their children’s health conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Parents reported the age at which their child completely stopped, or if they ever did, breastfeed, if their child had any visual problems that were unable to be corrected by standard glasses or contact lenses, and the age of onset of visual problems. Children who were born premature or experienced onset of visual problems prior to one year of age were excluded from analysis. Logistic regressions were performed in order to produce a crude odds ratio (OR) of association between babies who breastfed beyond 100 days of age and the association of visual problems that develop by the age of three, and an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) which controlled for the child’s race and family income.
Overall, children who breastfed beyond 100 days of age were found to be 88% less likely to develop visual problems by the age of three (OR=0.13; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.83) compared to babies who either never or discontinued breastfeeding before reaching 100 days of age. Adjusting for the race of the child and family income revealed an insignificant association between breastfeeding and the development of visual problems by the age of three (aOR=0.22; 95% CI: 0.04, 1.42).
These findings may suggest that babies who breastfeed beyond 100 days of age are more likely to have positive visual health outcomes as children, however, this protective effect is lost when adjusting for the child’s socioeconomic status. Our conclusions are limited by the cross-sectional and self-report nature of the study. Future research on the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding should track visual health outcomes during childhood.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.
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