Breast-feeding in relation to asthma, lung function, and sensitization in young schoolchildren

Kull I, Melen E, Alm J, Hallberg J, Svartengren M, van Hage M, Pershagen G, Wickman M, Bergström A.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 May;125(5):1013-9.


Background The evidence from previous studies on beneficial effects of breast-feeding in relation to development of asthma is conflicting.

ObjectiveTo investigate the relation between breast-feeding and asthma and/or sensitization during the first 8 years of life.

Method In a birth cohort, children were followed up to 8 years by questionnaires at ages 2 months and 1, 2, 4, and 8 years to collect information on exposures and health effects. Determination of serum IgE antibodies to common inhalant and food allergens was performed at 4 and 8 years. Longitudinal analyses were applied by using general estimated equations. The study population consisted of 3825 children (93% of the original cohort), of whom 2370 gave blood and 2564 performed lung function measurements at 8 years.

Results Children exclusively breast-fed 4 months or more had a reduced risk of asthma during the first 8 years of life (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.63; 95% CI, 0.50-0.78) compared with children breast-fed less than 4 months. At 8 years, reduced risks of sensitization (adjusted OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64-0.99) and asthma in combination with sensitization (adjusted OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.37-0.93) were seen among children exclusively breast-fed 4 months or more. This group also had a significantly better lung function measured with peak expiratory flow.

Conclusion Breast-feeding for 4 months or more seems to reduce the risk of asthma up to 8 years. At this age, a reduced risk was observed particularly for asthma combined with sensitization. Furthermore, breast-feeding seems to have a beneficial effect on lung function.


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