Breastfeeding May Reduce the Risk of Myopia in Children

Myopia, also called near-sightedness, is a condition in which distant objects appear blurred. Myopia is the leading cause of visual impairment in developed countries, and is present in over 30 million adults in the U.S.

Researchers in Singapore have found that children who are breastfed are less likely to have myopia. Breast milk is the main source of many micronutrients including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is important for photoreceptor and cortical neuronal development, which play a major role in whether children become nearsighted.

Researchers studied 797 children aged 10 to 12 as part of the Singapore Cohort Study of the Risk Factors of Myopia, including 418 children who had been exclusively breast-fed, and 379 who had not. They performed cycloplegic autorefraction and diagnosed myopia as spherical equivalent refraction of at least -.05 diopters.

Children who were breastfed had a lower prevalence of myopia (62.0%) than children who were not breastfed (69.1%). This association held even after researchers controlled for factors such as the parents’ nearsightedness, maternal age at delivery and birth weight.

Read more about myopia, including recommended vitamins and other nutritional products.

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 293 No. 24, June 22/29, 2005