Narrator: This is Science Today. Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing childhood leukemia. This according to an analysis conducted by Marilyn Kwan, a researcher in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Kwan: We looked at breastfeeding duration – both short-term, which is less than six months and long-term breastfeeding, greater than six months. And we did find a protective association between breastfeeding less than six months and risk of childhood leukemia, specifically the most common subtype, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Narrator: It's believed childhood leukemia may be an infectious process that develops in utero and is triggered by a second event that occurs postnatally.
Kwan: Breast milk contains a lot of immunological factors that are passed passively from the mom to the child and can boost the child's immune system. So his or her immune system might be able to avoid these common childhood infections that's the necessary second event leading to the presentation of childhood leukemia.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.