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Exclusive Breastfeeding for First Three Months May Cut Allergy Risk

Findings show lower risk for respiratory allergies and asthma at age 6 years

TUESDAY, March 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Exclusive breastfeeding for the first three months of life may cut the risk for allergy and asthma later in childhood, according to a study published March 3 in Acta Paediatrica.

Galya Bigman, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, used data from 1,177 mother-infant pairs participating in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (2005 to 2007) and the Year 6 Follow-Up Study (2012) to examine associations between breastfeeding and respiratory allergies and types of asthma in U.S. children.

Bigman found that one-third of the children (32.9 percent) were exclusively breastfed until the age of 3 months. By age 6 years, one in five (20.8 percent) had been diagnosed with respiratory allergies and 11.3 percent with asthma. Exclusive breastfeeding for three months was associated with a reduced risk for respiratory allergies (relative risk, 0.77) at 6 years of age. Among children without a family history of asthma, exclusive breastfeeding was also associated with a lower risk for asthma (relative risk, 0.66).

“Our results encourage exclusive breastfeeding for first three months of life through health promotion programs,” Bigman writes.

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