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Acta Paediatr Scand. 1979 Sep;68(5):691-4.

Prospective studies of the effect of breast feeding on incidence of infection and allergy.


The effect of exclusive breast feeding in the first few weeks after birth on infant morbidity due to infectious and allergic disorders was investigated in three separate prospective studies. In a rural community in India, breast-fed infants had a significantly lower incidence of respiratory infection, otitis, diarrhoea, dehydration and pneumonia. In an urban population in Canada, breast feeding was associated with a marked decrease in the occurrence of otitis and respiratory disease and to a lesser extent of diarrhoea and dehydration. In newborn siblings of children with atopic disease exclusively breast-fed for a minimum of six weeks, the incidence of eczema, recurrent wheezing, elevated serum IgE-antibodies to cow's milk, complement activation in vivo after milk challenge and hemagglutinating antibodies to beta-lactoglobulin was significantly lower compared with formula-fed matched group. These observations provide clinical data attesting the immunologic advantages of human milk.

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