A recent study of more than 2,700 Canadian mothers and infants shows babies who are breastfed longer are less likely to wheeze.

This puts the child at lower risk of developing asthma later on, according to the study done by the University of Manitoba.

It found that at three months of age, infants who were exclusively breastfed had a 26 per cent reduced rate of wheezing, compared to infants who were not breastfed. The results were similar for those being breastfed at six months of age.

Babies breastfed at one year had a 33 per cent reduced rate of wheezing, compared to those who breastfed for less than six months.

“For babies who are at high risk for developing asthma because their mothers have the condition, breastfeeding was especially beneficial,” Dr. Meghan Azad – an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba – said in a media release.

“Among these high-risk babies, those who were exclusively breastfed for six months had a 62 per cent reduced rate of wheezing compared to those who were not breastfed, which is very significant.”

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months to achieve optimal infant growth and development. However, the university also indicated there is emerging evidence that earlier introduction of certain complementary foods may reduce the risk of allergic disease.

“This was an interesting result that may help to inform infant feeding guidelines and guide further research on the bioactive properties of human milk,” Azad said

The study was officially published Tuesday in the European Respiratory Journal.