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Breastfeeding 'does not prevent eczema'

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Eczema in children is not prevented by breastfeeding, scientists have concluded.

In a large-scale study conducted across international borders on tens of thousands of children, no protective effect against the disease was detected and no evidence was found that exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of four months stops the skin condition from developing.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham, the University of Ulm in Germany and King’s College in London studied 51,119 children aged eight-12 from 21 countries.

They found eczema rates were the same for all children, regardless of how long they were breastfed and regardless of whether people were in wealthier or poorer countries.

The researchers say that guidelines for new mothers should be rewritten to take account of their findings.

Earlier research implied that breastfeeding protected children against eczema. The Department of Health for example says exclusive breastfeeding for six months will prevent eczema, as does the World Health Organisation.

Dr Carsten Flohr at King’s College said: “Although there was a small protective effect of breastfeeding per se on severe eczema in affluent countries, we found no evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for four months or longer protects against eczema in either developed or developing nations.

“We feel that the UK breastfeeding guidelines with regard to eczema should therefore be reviewed.”


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Readers' comments (1)

  • This just confirms what many of us have known for years. I breastfed both of my daughters for 4 months before introducing any other foods at all. One has ADHD and asthma and the other has asthma and eczema.
    I wish government departments, NICE, etc would think through carefully the implications of their statements. How many mothers have been blamed for not breastfeeding their babies or for keeping their houses too clean, etc? Blanket statements may damage the mental health of the mother, with possible adverse consequences for the baby.

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