Grimshaw KE et al.
Allergy. 2009 Oct;64(10):1407-16.
The relationship between infant feeding patterns and the later development of food allergies has been the focus of much debate and research over the last decade. National recommendations have been made by many countries on how to feed infants to reduce the risk of food allergy but due to the lack of firm evidence the recommendations differ widely. This review has been developed as part of EuroPrevall, a European multicentre research project funded by the European Union, to document the differing feeding recommendations made across Europe, to investigate the current evidence base for any allergy prevention feeding recommendations and to identify areas where further research is needed. This review will also provide information which, when combined with the infant feeding data collected as part of EuroPrevall, will give an indication of compliance to national feeding guidelines which can be utilised to assess the effectiveness of current dissemination and implementation strategies.
It is widely accepted that breast milk is the food of choice for infants for a great number of reasons such as cost, safety, psychological benefits and the prevention of infant disease such as diarrhoea, wheeze, vomiting and cough. However, the question considered here is whether breastfeeding is an effective primary prevention measure for allergic diseases. It must therefore be clear that, even if the evidence of such an effect is weak or absent, this will not lead to a change in general recommendations to breastfeed but rather a change in the information and advice physicians give new mothers with regard to allergy prevention.