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Modulation of allergy risk by breast feeding

Heinrich, Joachim

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: May 2017 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 217–221
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000366
PAEDIATRICS: Edited by Berthold Koletzko and Raanan Shamir

Purpose of review Breastfeeding has been suggested as a candidate for primary prevention of allergies. However, recent comprehensive and thoughtfully written systematic reviews reported mixed results and that overall there is only little evidence for breastfeeding being protective against allergic disorders. As these reviews last searched for relevant studies on 2 October 2014, the aim of our review is to shed light on the association between breastfeeding and allergic disorders (asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis) recently published.

Recent findings These recent studies are varied and differ in size, settings, design, depth of data collecting, and quality of the study. Thus far, the results on the association between nonexclusive and exclusive breastfeeding with regards to asthma are mixed especially in young ages. Additionally, if eczema and allergic rhinitis are the outcomes of interest, this recent review does not provide a clearer picture.

Summary The current guidelines by WHO and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) on breastfeeding till 6 months and exclusively breastfeeding for 4–6 months, respectively, for the prevention of allergies are not supported by the recent study results. Nevertheless, breastfeeding should be strongly recommended for other beneficial health effects than allergy prevention.

aGerman Center for Lung Research (DZL), Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital Munich, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich

bHelmholtz Zentrum München–German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology I, Neuherberg, Munich, Germany

Correspondence to Joachim Heinrich, PhD, Ziemssenstrasse 1, D-80336 Munich, Germany. Tel: +49 89 440055392; e-mail:

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