Research confirming the risk of atopic eczema and asthma when infants are not breastfed (a partial list):
Infant feeding, wheezing, and allergy: a prospective study.
Burr, M. L. ARCH Dis in Childhood 68:724-728, 1993
To study the determinants of wheezing and allergy, 453 British children were followed up to the age of 7 years. Children who had ever been breastfed had a lower incidence of wheeze (59%) than those who had not (74%). This effect persisted until the age of 7 years in the non-atopic children. The risk of wheeze was reduced by 50% in breastfed children after eliminating confounding factors. The researchers concluded that breastfeeding may confer long term protection against respiratory infection.
Breastfeeding and Asthma in Young Children.
Dell S, To T. ArchPediatr Adolesc Med 155: 1261-1265, 2001
This Canadian population-based study with a sample size of 2,184 children, between 12 to 24 months found that the longer the duration of breastfeeding the greater the protection against the development of asthma and wheeze in young children.
[Prevention of asthma in childhood] Dtsch Med Wochenschr
Kabesch, M. Von Mutius, E. 127: 1506-1508, 2002
Approximately 10% of children in Germany suffer from the onset of asthma. Primary prevention strategies to reduce the incidence are breastfeeding and the reduction of environmental tobacco smoke.
A Randomized trial in the Republic of Belarus Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial
Kramer MS et al. (PROBIT).JAMA 285: 413-20, 2001
Over 17,000 Belarus mother and baby pairs were followed for one year to determine the impact of duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding on gastrointestinal disease, respiratory infections and atopic eczema. No significant reduction in respiratory disease was noted. A striking impact was found in the reduction of gastrointestinal disease (40% lower risk) and in atopic eczema (47% lower risk).
Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding.
Kramer MS, Kakuma R. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. CD003517, 2002
The researchers concluded that there is no apparent risks in recommending, as a general policy, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life in both developing and developed countries.
Occurrence of acute diarrhea in atopic and non-atopic. Infants: the role of prolonged breastfeeding.
Ruuska, T. J.Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 14: 27-33,1992
A cohort of 336 was followed from birth for two years to study the development of atopy and the occurrence of acute diarrhea. Breastfeeding reduced the number of episodes and severity of diarrhea for infants with disease.
Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old.
Saarinen UM, Kajosaari M. Lancet 346:1065-1069, 1995
One hundred and fifty healthy infants were followed during their first year and then at ages 1, 3, 5, 10, and 17 years to determine the effect on atopic disease of breastfeeding. The researchers concluded that breastfeeding is prophylactic against atopic disease – Including atopic eczema, food allergies and respiratory allergy – throughout childhood and adolescence.
Association between breast feeding and asthma in 6 year old children: findings of a prospective cohort study.
Oddy, W.H. et al. BMJ 319: 815-818, 1999
A cohort of 2,602 Australian children were enrolled prior to birth and followed prospectively, for respiratory illness and method of feeding in the first year of life. The researchers concluded that exclusive breastfeeding for four months protects against asthma and reduces the risk by 40%.
Maternal asthma, infant feeding, and the risk of asthma in childhood.
Oddy, W. H., Peat, J. K., de Klerk, N.H. J Asthma Clin Immunol 110: 65-67, 2002
To settle the controversy regarding breastfeeding and asthma, this study looked at a cohort of 2,602 Australian children prospectively. They found that the risk of asthma increased if exclusive breastfeeding was stopped before 4 months. They recommend that infants with or without a maternal history of asthma be exclusively breastfed for 4 months and beyond
The effects of respiratory infections, atopy, and breastfeeding on childhood asthma.
Oddy, W. H. et al. Eur Respir J 19: 899-905, 2002
The Australian cohort of 2,602 children followed prospectively, were studied to quantify the association between atopy, respiratory infections and asthma, and exclusive breastfeeding. Multiple episodes of wheezing (lower respiratory) increased the risk for developing of asthma for both non-atopic and atopic children. Having three or less upper respiratory infections had a negative association, while four or more episodes showed a positive risk fore asthma. Both wheezing and atopy were independently associated with increased risk for asthma, suggesting their effects are via different pathways. Exclusive breastfeeding protected against asthma via effects on both pathways as well as through as yet undefined mechanisms.
Breastfeeding and asthma among Brazilian children.
Romieu, I. Et al. J Asthma 37: 575-583, 2000
This Pan American Health Organization study examined 5,182 Brazilian school children as part of the International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Over 90% of the children had been breastfed. The authors attribute the low prevalence of asthma and wheeze in this population to be related to the high incidence of breastfeeding. Children who had not been breastfed were more likely to have a medical diagnosis of asthma, experience wheezing, than children who had been breastfed for 6 months or longer.
[Risk factors associated with bronchiolitis in children under 2 years of age].
Ruiz-Charles, M.G. et al. Rev Invest Clin 54:125- 132, 2002
To determine the risk factors for bronchiolitis in children less than 2 years, this case controlled study examined the children attending a pediatric emergency ward in Mexico. Risk factors included prematurity and a family history of bronchial asthma. Present-day breastfeeding was found to have a protective effect.
Is prevention of childhood asthma possible? Allergens, infection and animals.
Tang, M. L. Med J Aust 177:S75-77, 2002
This review article notes that the current recommendations for the primary prevention of asthma include exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, avoidance of maternal smoking during pregnancy and infancy and reducing the levels of house mites in some environments.
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