Myths and facts about breastfeeding: does it prevent later atopic disease?


A.Z.-Kinderen, Free University of Brussels, Laarbeeklaan 101, B-1090 Brussels, Belgium


Exclusive human milk feeding during the first 6 months of life, with delayed introduction of solids, is the recommended feeding for human infants. Human milk reduces the incidence and morbidity related to infection and allergy to cow's milk proteins. Dietary maternal restrictions during (late) pregnancy or lactation cannot be recommended, but may be advised in special cases. A maternal elimination diet seems more effective if associated with environmental hypoallergenic intervention(s). Milk from mothers consuming cow's milk proteins contains small amounts of beta-lactoglobulin, which appear to introduce in the majority of infants both atopic and non-atopic tolerance rather than sensitization. However, it is uncertain whether breastfeeding also reduces the incidence of later atopic disease, since its aetiology is multifactorial.