According to new research, breast feeding children exclusively for the first three months of life had significantly lower odds of them experiencing eczema.
Presented during the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2019 Annual Meeting, researchers discovered according to preliminary research, that being exclusively breastfed significantly lowered the chances of having eczema at age 6 compared with peers who were not breastfed or breast feeding children in less time.
Eczema and breast feeding
“The evidence that being exclusively breastfed protects children from developing eczema later in life remains mixed,” says Katherine M. Balas, a clinical research assistant at Children’s National and the study’s lead author.
“Our research team is trying to help fill that data gap.”
Eczema is a chronic condition characterised by extremely itchy skin that, when scratched, becomes inflamed and covered with blisters that crack easily. While genes and the environment are implicated in this inflammatory disease, many questions remain unanswered, such as how best to prevent it.
Balas and colleagues tapped data collected in Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a longitudinal study co-led by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2005 to 2007, as well as the agencies’ 2012 follow-up examination of that study cohort.
Details of the study
This study first tracked the diets of approximately 2,000 pregnant women from their third trimester and examined feeding practices through their babies’ first year of life.
Their follow-up inquiry looked at the health, development and dietary patterns for 1,520 of these children at 6 years of age.
About 300 of the children had been diagnosed with eczema at some point in their lives, and 58.5% of the 6-year-olds had eczema at the time of the CDC/FDA Year Six Follow-Up.
Children with higher socioeconomic status or a family history of food allergies had higher odds of being diagnosed with eczema.
“Children who were exclusively breastfed for three months or longer were significantly less likely (adjusted odds ratio: 0.477) to have continued eczema at age 6, compared with peers who were never breastfed or who were breastfed for less than three months,” Balas adds.
“While exclusive breastfeeding may not prevent kids from getting eczema, it may protect them from experiencing extended flare-ups.”