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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Allergies -

Breastfeeding may reduce infant’s risk of eczema

AllergiesOct 13, 05

Infants who consume breastmilk for four months or longer after birth have a reduced risk of being plagued by the dry skin or itchy rash characteristic of eczema by the time they are 4 years old, new study findings suggest.

“Early onset of eczema or asthma is a burden not only for the child but also for the family. As such, our results are promising,” study author Inger Kull, of Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, told Reuters Health.

Various researchers have reported positive benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, including its association with a reduced asthma risk. Studies on the association between breastfeeding and eczema, however, have yielded mixed results.

One study found that exclusive breastfeeding during the first three months was associated with a lower risk eczema among infants with a family history of allergies, while other investigators reported that breastfeeding increased the risk of eczema.

Noting the short follow-up periods and other limitations of such studies, Kull and colleagues revisited the topic in a study of 4,089 newborns. The researchers surveyed parents about breastfeeding and allergy symptoms when the children were 2 months, 1, 2, and 4 years old.

Overall, infants whose diet consisted of breastmilk for four months or longer had about a 20-percent reduced risk of eczema at 4 years old, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

This finding was particularly true among children whose eczema symptoms were evident during their first 2 years of life and persisted until age 4. When children exhibit early signs of eczema or other allergic conditions, their allergic symptoms may persist into later years, but the allergic condition may take other forms, a phenomenon referred to as the “allergy march,” Kull and colleagues note.

In light of the findings, “breast-feeding should be recommended as one possible way to reduce the risk of onset of eczema and asthma to the age of 4 years,” the researchers conclude.

“Breast milk is best for the baby,” Kull added, “and for many reasons breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed the child with human milk.”

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, September 2005.

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