Breastfeeding may not reduce allergy, asthma risk

November 1, 2007

Neither extended nor exclusive breastfeeding have an impact on the risk of allergy and asthma development in children, according to research published online Sept. 11 in BMJ.

Neither extended nor exclusive breastfeeding have an impact on the risk of allergy and asthma development in children, according to research published online Sept. 11 in BMJ.

Michael S. Kramer, MD, of Montreal Children's Hospital in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues conducted a study of 17,046 mother-infant pairs from 31 Belarussian hospitals and clinics, of whom 13,889 were followed-up at 6.5 years. Half the pairs were in hospitals that provided breastfeeding support and promotion in line with the WHO/UNICEF baby friendly hospital initiative, while the other half were not.

By 3 months after birth, 43.3% of the women in the intervention group were exclusively breastfeeding, versus 6.4% in the control group. The women in the former group were also significantly more likely to be still breast-feeding at the 12-month mark.

"These results do not support a protective effect of prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding on asthma or allergy," they conclude.

Kramer MS, Matush L, Vanilovich I, et al. Effect of prolonged and exclusive breast feeding on risk of allergy and asthma: cluster randomised trial. BMJ. Published online September 11, 2007 at http:// http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.39304.464016.AEv1.