Babies who have been breasfed for at least six months have a lower risk of developing leukaemia, new research has found. Scientists found that these babies had a 19% lower risk than those who were breastfed for a shorter period or not at all. These findings were made after scientists reviewed 18 different studies.
The researchers, at the University of Haifa in Israel, suggested more should be done to educate women on the health benefits of breastfeeding, while there should also be efforts to make it easier for women to do it in public.
A separate analysis of 15 studies found that being breastfed was associated with an 11% lower risk of childhood leukaemia, compared with never being breastfed.
Leukaemiais the most common cancer diagnosed in childhood and accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancers but little is known about its cause.
The amount of women breastfeeding in the UK is increasing, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), with 55% now breastfeeding at six weeks and 34% at six months, but younger mothers and those living in areas of higher deprivation are the least likely to breastfeed.