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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

The association between infant feeding practices and subsequent atopy among children with a family history of asthma

Authors

  • S. Mihrshahi,

    1. Department of Allergy Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Children's Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia,
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  • R. Ampon,

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • K. Webb,

    1. School of Public Health and Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • C. Almqvist,

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia,
    2. Department of Woman and Child Health, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden,
    3. NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, NSW, Australia, and
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  • A. S. Kemp,

    1. Department of Allergy Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Children's Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia,
    2. Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • D. Hector,

    1. School of Public Health and Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • G. B. Marks,

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • for the CAPS Team

    1. Department of Allergy Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Children's Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia,
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Correspondence:
Andrew Kemp, Department Allergy Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Children's Hospital, Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. E-mail: andrewk5@chw.edu.au

Summary

Background Although longer duration of breastfeeding and later introduction of solid foods are both recommended for the prevention of asthma and allergic disease, evidence to support these recommendations is controversial.

Objective To examine the relation between infant feeding practices and the risk of asthma and allergic disease at age 5 years.

Methods A cohort of children with a family history of asthma in Sydney, Australia, was followed from birth to age 5 years. Data on infant feeding practices and on early manifestations of eczema were collected prospectively. The presence of eczema, asthma and atopy (positive allergen skin prick tests) were determined at age 5 years.

Results In 516 children evaluated at age 5 years, there was no significant association between the duration of breastfeeding or timing of introduction of solid foods and protection against asthma or other allergic disease, after adjustment for confounding factors. However, breastfeeding for 6 months or more and introduction of solid foods after 3 months were both associated with an increased risk of atopy at age 5 years (P=0.02 and 0.01, respectively). There was no significant association between the presence of eczema at 4 weeks and at 3 months and continued breastfeeding beyond those times.

Conclusion Longer duration of breastfeeding and later introduction of solid foods did not prevent the onset of asthma, eczema or atopy by age 5 years.

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