Washington: A preliminary research presented during the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2019 Annual Meeting, said children exclusively breastfed for the first three months of life had significantly lower odds of having eczema at age 6 compared with peers who were not breastfed or were breastfed for less time.
Eczema is a chronic condition characterised by extremely itchy skin that, when scratched, becomes inflamed and covered with blisters that crack easily. Questions regarding how to prevent eczema still remains unanswered and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfed infants have reduced risks for developing many chronic conditions, including asthma and obesity.
Speaking about it, study author Katherine M. Balas said, “The evidence that being exclusively breastfed protects children from developing eczema later in life remains mixed,” adding, "Our research team is trying to help fill that data gap."
Balas and colleagues tapped data collected in Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a longitudinal study co-led by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2005 to 2007, as well as the agencies' 2012 follow-up examination of that study cohort.
This study first tracked the diets of about 2,000 pregnant women from their third trimester and examined feeding practices through their babies' first year of life. Their follow-up inquiry looked at the health, development and dietary patterns for 1,520 of these children at 6 years of age.
About 300 of the children had been diagnosed with eczema at some point in their lives, and 58.5 per cent of the 6-year-olds had eczema at the time of the CDC/FDA Year Six Follow-Up. Children with higher socio-economic status or a family history of food allergies had higher odds of being diagnosed with eczema.
Balas added, “Children who were exclusively breastfed for three months or longer were significantly less likely (adjusted odds ratio: 0.477) to have continued eczema at age 6, compared with peers who were never breastfed or who were breastfed for less than three months.” He further shared, “While exclusive breastfeeding may not prevent kids from getting eczema, it may protect them from experiencing extended flare-ups.”