New insights in the effects of breastfeeding on allergy-related diseases

Published Online: April 2, 2015

For many years, breastfeeding has been promoted as a way to reduce risk of allergy-related diseases in children, particularly in families with a history of allergy. In a new study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Jelding-Dannemand and colleagues present results showing no protective effect of breastfeeding against allergic sensitization and allergy-related diseases such as asthma, eczema, and seasonal allergies.

Allergic sensitization is the presence of antibodies against specific allergens, regardless of symptoms and disease. It is an important objective marker of allergic disease and many children who develop sensitization tend to show symptoms of allergy-related diseases later in life.

This study followed 335 at-risk children from Copenhagen, Denmark all born to mothers with a history of asthma. Allergic sensitization was measured at ½, 1½, 4, and 6 years of age, by skin prick tests and blood tests against 12 common airborne and 10 food allergens. Information on breastfeeding was gathered by personal interviews, and eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitis were diagnosed at the research unit when the children were 7 years old.

The study confidently showed that duration of breastfeeding was without any effect on the development of allergic sensitization and allergy-related diseases in the first 6 years of life.

Breastfeeding is the optimal means of feeding babies; however, recommendations of breastfeeding at-risk babies may need to be moderated in order to prevent distress and guilt in in those mothers with breastfeeding difficulties.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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