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Breast-Feeding Seems to Protect Against Some Allergies
Date:1/7/2008

It helps high-risk infants prone to eczema, asthma and food allergies, report suggests

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Atopic disease -- which includes eczema, asthma and food allergies -- may be delayed or even prevented in high-risk infants if they are exclusively breast-fed for at least four months or fed infant formula without cow milk protein.

That's the conclusion of a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that's published in the January issue of Pediatrics. The report replaces an earlier policy statement from the AAP.

"Basically, it probably does not matter what pregnant or lactating women eat," said Dr. Frank Greer, an author of the report, professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin and chairman of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.

"The best prevention for atopic [allergic] disease is exclusive breast-feeding for four months," he added. "And if your infant comes from a family with significant atopic disease, then weaning from breast milk to a partially or extensively hydrolyzed [hypoallergenic] formula [without cow milk protein] may delay or prevent the onset of atopic disease, especially atopic dermatitis [eczema]."

Greer added that this recommendation would also apply to formula-fed infants who are at risk for atopic disease.

The timing and introduction of solid foods has no protective effect on the prevention of atopic disease, according to the new report.

"With the increase in asthma and food allergies that we've seen recently, we had hoped that maternal diet, breast-feeding and early childhood diet might all have some factor in decreasing incidence," said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to significantly impact, according to studies already done. The only one that seems to be impacted is the atopic dermatitis, which is decreased by about
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