Breastfeeding and the development of asthma and atopy during childhood: a birth cohort study

Aida Semic-Jusufagic, Angela Simpson, Clare Murray, Susana Marinho, Adnan Custovic


Objective. Within the context of a population based-birthcohort, we investigated the association between breastfeedingand development of asthma and atopy in childhood. Methods. Children (n=1072) were followed from birth andreviewed at age one, three, five and eight years. Based on theonset and resolution of symptoms, we assigned children intothe wheeze phenotypes (never, transient, intermittent, lateonsetand persistent). Atopy was determined by skin testingand specific IgE measurement. According to the duration ofbreastfeeding, participants were assigned as not breastfed,breastfed ≤ four months and breastfed > four months. Results. In a multinomial regression model adjusted for gender,we found that breastfeeding > four months was protective of transient early wheeze (aOR: 0.61, 95% CI 0.41-0.90, p=0.01),with no significant association between breastfeeding andother wheeze phenotypes. In a multivariate model, we founda significant protective effect of breastfeeding >four monthson doctor-diagnosed asthma by age eight (aOR 0.59, 95%CI 0.39-0.88, p=0.01). However, we observed a strong trendwhich failed to reach statistical significance for breastfeeding>four months to increase the risk of atopy at age one year(aOR 2.41, 95% CI 0.94-6.14, p=0.07). There was no significantassociation between breastfeeding and atopy at any othertime point. Conclusion. Breastfeeding may prevent viral-infectioninduced wheezing illnesses in early childhood (transientearly wheezing).


Breastfeeding, Asthma, Atopy, Childhood

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