Breastfeeding vs. Formula: Impact on Allergies?

NOVEMBER 05, 2015
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
Breastfeeding has been linked to various benefits, including lower odds of childhood leukemia and reduced multiple sclerosis relapse risk in mothers. Unfortunately, reducing the risk of the baby developing allergies does not make the list.

It’s been thought that breastfeeding can reduce asthma, eczema, food allergies, and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in children, but this does not appear to be true, according to a study that will be presented at the 2015 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting (ACAAI 2015) in San Antonio, Texas.

Lead author Quindelyn Cook, MD, and colleagues evaluated 194 patients ranging in age from 4 to 18. All of the participants had been diagnosed with hay fever by a skin prick test. It was noted which children were breastfed and which ones were not. The results became pretty clear once the authors compared the 134 breastfed children and the 60 formula fed children.

“We found both groups had similar numbers of kids with hay fever. We also found both groups had similar numbers of kids with asthma, eczema and food allergy,” Cook, a pediatrician in Chicago, detailed in a news release.

Therefore, it does not appear that breastfeeding has a significant influence on a child’s allergies.

“We know breastfeeding is good for babies, and new mothers should continue to breastfeed,” said one of the authors Christina Ciaccio, MD. “Larger studies need to be done to determine how these results might apply to the larger population.”

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