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Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Aug 1;160(3):217-23.

Breastfeeding and risk of atopic dermatitis, by parental history of allergy, during the first 18 months of life.

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Department of Epidemiology Research, Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The role of breastfeeding in allergic diseases remains controversial. The authors studied the association between breastfeeding and development of atopic dermatitis during the first 18 months of life among children with and without a parental history of allergy. A cohort study of 15,430 mother-child pairs enrolled in The Danish National Birth Cohort was carried out between 1998 and 2000. Data on breastfeeding, atopic dermatitis, and potential confounders was obtained from telephone interviews conducted during pregnancy and when the children were 6 and 18 months of age. The cumulative incidence of atopic dermatitis was 11.5% at 18 months of age. Overall, current breastfeeding was not associated with atopic dermatitis (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.80, 1.04). Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months was associated with an increased risk of atopic dermatitis in children with no parents with allergies (IRR = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.55) but not for children with one (IRR = 1.11, 95% CI: 0.94, 1.31) or two (IRR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.69, 1.13) parents with allergies (test for homogeneity, p = 0.03). The authors found no overall effects of exclusive or partial breastfeeding on the risk of atopic dermatitis. However, the effect of exclusive breastfeeding for 4 months or more depended on parental history of allergic diseases.

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