Breast-feeding was associated with increased odds for hay fever and eczema, but was not significantly associated with asthma, according to data published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
“[WHO] recommends breast-feeding for at least 6 months after delivery because of general health benefits for the child,” Weronica E. Ek, PhD, from the department of immunology, genetics and pathology at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues wrote. “However, studies on breast-feeding have yielded inconsistent results regarding its association with the risks for developing asthma, hay fever and eczema.”
Using data from a cohort of 336,364 middle-aged participants in the U.K., researchers conducted an observational study to determine the impact of breast-feeding on asthma, hay fever and eczema. They compared the risk for self-reported asthma, hay fever and eczema separately and hay fever/eczema combined depending on breast-feeding, then re-analyzed all disease phenotypes adjusting for covariates including sex, socioeconomic status, birth weight, year of birth, smoking, BMI and living in a rural or urban area.
Analysis showed that individuals who were breast-fed were more likely to develop hay fever and eczema, but not asthma. Breast-feeding was associated with higher odds of hay fever/eczema (OR = 1.06; P = 7.8x10-6) and for hay fever and eczema diagnosed separately; however, the association between breast-feeding and asthma diagnosis was not significant. Researchers observed that lower socioeconomic status was associated with higher odds for asthma and lower odds for hay fever. Higher birth weight was associated with lower chance for developing asthma and hay fever/eczema. An additional subgroup analysis of all participants confirmed these findings.
‘This study reports evidence that breast-feeding is associated with an increased risk for hay fever and eczema,” Ek and colleagues wrote. “Due to the high power achieved by the large sample size and the rigorous information on confounding variables, we conclude that breast-feeding is not likely to have a large effect on the risk of developing asthma.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.