Background: The evidence from previous studies on beneficial effects of breast-feeding in relation to development of asthma is conflicting.
Objective: To 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.
Copyright 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.