Cross-sectional study of allergic disorders associated with breastfeeding in Japan: the Ryukyus Child Health Study

Yoshihiro Miyake, Masashi Arakawa, Keiko Tanaka, Satoshi Sasaki, Yukihiro Ohya
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 2007, 18 (5): 433-40
Uncertainties remain as to whether breastfeeding is protective against childhood allergic disorders. Positive relationships of breastfeeding with asthma and atopic eczema were observed in two previous Japanese studies. This cross-sectional study investigated the association between the feeding pattern after birth and the prevalence of allergic disorders during the past 12 months in Japanese schoolchildren. Study subjects were 24,077 children aged 6-15 yr in Okinawa. The outcomes were based on diagnostic criteria from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Allowance was made for age, sex, number of siblings, smoking in the household, paternal and maternal history of asthma, atopic eczema, and allergic rhinitis, and paternal and maternal educational level. Breastfeeding, regardless of exclusivity, for 13 months or longer and exclusive breastfeeding for 4-11 months were independently associated with a higher prevalence of atopic eczema, particularly among children without a parental allergic history. A clear positive dose-response relationship was observed between prolonged duration of breastfeeding, regardless of exclusivity, but not exclusive breastfeeding, and the prevalence of atopic eczema. We found a significant positive trend for atopic eczema across the three categories (formula milk, partial and exclusive breastfeeding) in the first 4 months of life although the odds ratio for exclusive breastfeeding was not statistically significant. No material association was found between the feeding pattern after birth and the prevalence of wheeze or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Prolonged breastfeeding may be associated with a higher prevalence of atopic eczema in Japanese children.

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