Breastfeeding not protective against childhood asthma

Breastfeeding exclusively or for a prolonged period does not protect children against developing asthma and allergies, according to new research.

Researchers recruited 17,046 breastfeeding women attending 31 Belarussian maternity hospitals, and encouraged one group to breastfeed for longer, leaving the remaining group as a control.

They followed up 13,889 children when they reached 6.5 years of age and tested for symptoms of asthma or allergies, said BMJ Online First.

The results indicated that increased breastfeeding did not reduce the risk of asthma, hayfever or eczema at 6.5 years of age, despite large increases in the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.

The researchers said: ‘Our results underline the importance of seeking other explanations for the recent epidemic of allergy and asthma.’

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