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Breast-feeding reduces the risk for childhood eczema

      Background

      The evidence for a preventive effect of breast-feeding on the development of eczema in childhood remains controversial.

      Objective

      To investigate the effect of breast-feeding in various phenotypes of eczema to 4 years.

      Methods

      A birth cohort of 4089 children made up the study base. Data on breast-feeding, allergic symptoms, and potential confounders were obtained from questionnaires when the children were 2 months and 1, 2, and 4 years old. At 4 years, blood specific IgE was analyzed. Children with symptoms of eczema and asthma during the period of breast-feeding were excluded in most analyses on risk assessment of eczema and asthma, respectively, to avoid disease-related modification of exposure.

      Results

      Exclusive breast-feeding for ≥4 months reduced the risk for eczema at the age of 4 years (odds ratio [OR], 0.78; 95% CI, 0.63-0.96) irrespective of combination with asthma, sensitization to common allergens, or parental allergic disease. This decreased risk was most evident for children with onset of eczema during the first 2 years persisting to 4 years (OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.45-0.77). Among children with early-onset eczema, irrespective of persistency, followed by late onset of asthma or early-onset asthma irrespective of persistency, followed by late-onset eczema to 4 years, a protective effect of breast-feeding was also seen (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.30-0.76).

      Conclusion

      Breast-feeding 4 months or more reduces the risk for eczema and onset of the allergy march to age 4.

      Key words

      Abbreviation used:

      BAMSE (Children, Allergy, Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiological survey), OR (Odds ratio)
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