This nationwide cross-sectional study is the first of its kind assessing the relationship between breastfeeding and maternal age-related cataract in Korea. They assessed the participants into quartiles depending on the number of breastfed children and duration of breastfeeding. There were 2197 out of 3821 women analysed aged over 50 who had age-related cataracts. Women who breastfed four to 12 children had significantly lower risks for cortical cataract (Odds ratio+0.56; 95% confidence interval=0.35-0.89) compared to those that breastfed only one child or none at all. Women who breastfed for 36-60 months (OR =0.61, 95% CI=0.42-0.90) or 61-324 months (OR=0.53, 95% CI=0.33-0.83) had lower risks for cortical cataract compared to those that breastfed for 16 months or less (P value across quintiles=0.003). They came to the conclusion that breastfeeding more children and long-term breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of cortical cataract. Although this study has shown there is a relationship between breastfeeding and cortical cataract development it is difficult to demonstrate a direct relationship. This is because there is a significant time period between breastfeeding and the development of age-related cataract. In addition there is significant recall bias as this study uses a self-report questionnaire that is not validated. Finally, it is difficult to translate this data across to today’s women or those from different cultures, as breastfeeding practice will be different to those women involved in the study. 

Breastfeeding and maternal age.
Park S, Choi N.
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Tasmin Berman

University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

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