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More Sensationalistic Anti-Breastfeeding News

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Breastfeeding worsens asthma, allergies in children.

That's the headline of an article running the The Australian today.

(Thanks Andi for pointing this story out to me)

In fact, read these snippet:

BREASTFEEDING for longer does not protect babies from developing asthma or eczema as young children, according to Australian research that conflicts with national guidelines.

Results from a new Sydney study show babies breast fed longer than six months may actually be more susceptible to allergies at five years old.


Furthermore, the early introduction of solids before three months actually appeared to protect against allergies.

Now there's more in that article that explains things a tiny bit more in-depth, but we all know that when most people read the article, they are going to take away two things...

1.) If I breastfeed, my child is more likely to have allergies
2.) If I wait to introduce solids, my child is is more likely to have allergies


Isn't it funny how news outlets use a single study and ignore all the existing studies on the books that say something that runs contrary to that study? Remember that bit I posted the other day about the 95% confidence interval?

Now, I'd love to dive into this study to do some reading, but I can't find any place that actually gives out the name of the study. I've done a little digging and so far, nothing. That said, I've seen a few responses from those in the Lactation community, so I want to give you a little bit of input just in case you run into people that want to tell you how breastfeeding is going to make it more likely that your child has allergies and asthma.

First, the study looked at infants that were already at an increased risk for allergies due to hereditary factors. Looking at the data, it DOES appear to show that for babies that are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, there may be no reduction in allergies if you are already genetically predisposed to it.

The study also reportedly shows that for those who are at increased risk, are breastfed for six months or more and who have solids introduced after 3 months, there is an increased risk of having allergies at age 5. It says nothing about the overall rates of allergies or asthma, two conditions that often don't reveal themselves until children are much older than 5.

The study supposedly does nothing to differentiate children that are EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for six months (no intro of solids until six months) and then breastfed with solids until the age of 12 months.

So basically, without having access to the study and with having to rely on those in the lactation community for summaries and insight, it appears that the study was limited to babies that were already more likely to develop asthma or allergies and that in some instances, these conditions reveal themselves earlier.

The study does NOTHING to say that among the general populace, breastfeeding increases the risk (or even maintains an even risk) as not breastfeeding.

Anyone out there able to find the name of the study and the complete text? I'd love to take a look for myself...

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:22 AM |  

    just wondering, is there any mention of parents smoking? did they include it in their data? (i know you are still looking, wondering if you'll find that anywhere.)

  2. Anonymous Brenda Zizolfo | 8:24 AM |  

    Grrr- so frustrating- Seriously, are we back in the 50's that people are going out of their way to prove that breastfeeding is not the obviously healthiest choice? I just can't even wrap my mind around it- I imagine it would be similar to if a study came out that showed that a handful of children who were in car accidents while in carseats had some minor injuries due to the restraints while some other children that were on their parents laps in accidents were not injured in accidents that they were in. Therefore, it's better to sit your kids on your laps. Obviously if someone is looking for a reason to discredit something, even if it's been proved over and over again to be the better way, people will find a reason if they look really really hard. It just makes me sad-

  3. Blogger Nevanna | 9:39 AM |  

    See? A study said it, so it must be true.


  4. Blogger Eilat | 12:30 PM |  

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Blogger Ada_S | 10:25 PM |  

    There was another article in the Sydney Morning Herald that sensationalized the study quite atrociously. To quote it: "Results from a Sydney study show babies breastfed longer than six months may be more susceptible to allergies at five years old. They also show that babies who begin eating solids before three months of age may be less likely to have allergies as a young child." http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/benefits-of-longterm-breastfeeding-questioned/2007/05/01/1177788142459.html

    This appears to be at odds with what the authors are actually suggesting, they are quoted later in the article.

    The details of the study are as follows: Clinical & Experimental Allergy
    S. Mihrshahi, R. Ampon, K. Webb, C. Almqvist, A. S.
    Kemp, D. Hector, G. B. Marks, for the CAPS Team (2007)
    The association between infant feeding practices and subsequent atopy among
    children with a family history of asthma
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 37 (5), 671­679.

    Great blog!


  6. Blogger Jennifer | 6:19 AM |  

    thank you Steph! Now I can see if I can dig that study up!

  7. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:17 PM |  

    have you gotten on hold of the article? you can email me in susuibu at gmail if you want.

  8. Blogger grapsair | 5:40 PM |  

    This 'research'came up again in The Canberra Times today. I am hoping someone has been able to get the article. I am particularly interested to find out about the authors of the study and their funding. The lead author of a recent study into safety of flu vacines for the elderly was paid consultant to 4 pharmaceutical companies!

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