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Retrospective observational cohort study regarding the effect of breastfeeding on challenge-proven food allergy

van Ginkel, C. D., van der Meulen, G. N., Bak, E., Flokstra-de Blok, B. M. J., Kollen, B. J., Koppelman, G. H. & Dubois, A. E. J., Apr-2018, In : European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. p. 557-563

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Human breast milk is generally regarded as the best nutrition for infants in their first months of life. Whether breastfeeding has a protective effect on food allergy is a point of debate and the subject of this study.

SUBJECTS/METHODS: This retrospective study was conducted in 649 children who underwent a double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) as part of routine care in a tertiary care clinic. Food allergy was defined as having at least one positive DBPCFC to any food. The association between both "any" breastfeeding (yes/no) and its duration in months with food allergy was studied by logistic regression analysis with correction for confounding variables.

RESULTS: The prevalence of food allergy was 58.9% (n = 382). Of all subjects, 75.8% (n = 492) was breastfed and 24.2% (n = 157) bottle-fed. There was no significant association between food allergy and breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding after correction for the confounding effect of increased breastfeeding by atopic parents and a history of asthma in the child (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 0.85-1.79, p = 0.27). However, in breastfed children, every additional month of breastfeeding lowered the risk for food allergy by ~4% (OR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.93-0.99, p = 0.02). No confounders were identified in this association.

CONCLUSION: These results show for the first time that in children investigated for possible food allergy, every additional month of breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of developing clinical food allergy as diagnosed by DBPCFC. However, overall, there was no association between the prevalence of food allergy and breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding in this tertiary care population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-563
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2018

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