Breastfeeding and introduction of complementary foods during infancy in relation to the risk of asthma and atopic diseases up to 10 years




It has been hypothesized that changes in diet during early life may have contributed to the increase in childhood asthma and atopy. The long-term effect of the timing and content of infant feeding on the incidence of asthma and atopic diseases in children is unclear.


To investigate the associations between duration of breastfeeding and the timing of introduction of complementary foods during the first 6 months and parental-reported asthma, wheeze and atopic eczema up to 10 years of age.


Infant feeding practices (breastfeeding and introduction of complementary foods) of 1924 singleton children participating in the Study of Eczema and Asthma To Observe the influence of Nutrition (SEATON) birth cohort were prospectively collected up to 6 months with outcomes (wheeze, atopic eczema and asthma) being assessed at 1, 2, 5 and 10 years. Data were analysed using generalized estimating equations and discrete hazards models with adjustment for confounders.


By 6 months, 59% and 35% of mothers had stopped exclusive and total breastfeeding, respectively. Although formula feeding was adversely associated with wheeze in the past 12 months (adjusted OR for no formula feeding: 070, 95% CI 0.50–0.97), and the introduction of biscuits/bread after 5 months of age adversely associated with atopic eczema (adjusted OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.06–1.69), these results lost their statistical significance after adjustment for multiple testing. Stratification of the results by the presence of eczema by 6 months of age and family atopic history did not substantially differ from the results of the whole study population.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance

Our results suggest that the nature of infant feeding during the first 6 months seems not to substantially influence the long-term risk of asthma and atopic diseases in children, nor in children at high risk of atopic disease because of a family history of atopic disease.