Association between breastfeeding and eczema during childhood and adolescence: A cohort study.

Wang, Jingying; Ramette, Alban; Jurca, Maja; Goutaki, Myrofora; Beardsmore, Caroline S; Kuehni, Claudia E (2017). Association between breastfeeding and eczema during childhood and adolescence: A cohort study. PLoS ONE, 12(9), e0185066. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0185066

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Breastfeeding is said to protect children from eczema (atopic dermatitis), but the available evidence is conflicting and subject to the influences of parental atopy and reverse causation (when mothers extended duration of breastfeeding because their children had eczema).


In the prospective, population-based Leicester Respiratory Cohort study, we assessed duration of breastfeeding in children aged 1-4 years. Prevalence of eczema was determined by questionnaire surveys that were repeated until the children were 17 years old. We investigated the association between having been breastfed and current eczema using generalized estimating equations, adjusting for potential confounders, and tested for effect modification by parental atopy. We also assessed the association between having been breastfed and incident eczema at ages 2, 4, and 6 years using multivariable logistic regression.


Among the 5,676 children in the study, 2,284 (40%) had never been breastfed, while 1,610 (28%), 705 (12%), and 1,077 (19%) had been breastfed for 0-3, 4-6, and >6 months, respectively. Prevalence of current eczema decreased from 36% in 1-year-olds to 18% in children aged 10-17 years. Breastfeeding was not associated with current eczema. Compared with children who had never been breastfed, the adjusted odds ratios for current eczema at any age were 1.02 (95% confidence interval 0.90-1.15) for children who had been breastfed for 0-3 months, 0.97 (0.82-1.13) for children breastfed for 4-6 months, and 0.98 (0.85-1.14) for children breastfed for >6 months. There was no strong evidence for an effect modification by parental atopy (p-value for interaction term was 0.061) and no association between having been breastfed and incident eczema later in childhood.


This population-based cohort study found no evidence for protection of breastfeeding against childhood eczema at any age, from infancy through adolescence.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Wang, Jingying, Ramette, Alban Nicolas, Jurca, Maja, Goutaki, Myrofora, Kühni, Claudia


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Public Library of Science




Anette van Dorland

Date Deposited:

17 Oct 2017 09:43

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:07

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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