The aim of our study was to examine the associations of breastfeeding duration and exclusiveness with the risks of asthma-related symptoms in preschool children, and to explore whether these associations are explained by atopic or infectious mechanisms. This study was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort study of 5,368 children. Information on breastfeeding duration, exclusiveness and asthma-related symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm, was obtained by questionnaires. Compared with children who were breastfed for 6 months, those who were never breastfed had overall increased risks of wheezing, shortness of breath, dry cough and persistent phlegm during the first 4 yrs (OR 1.44 (95% CI 1.24-1.66), 1.26 (1.07-1.48), 1.25 (1.08-1.44) and 1.57 (1.29-1.91), respectively). Similar associations were observed for exclusive breastfeeding. The strongest associations per symptom per year were observed for wheezing at 1 and 2 yrs. Additionally adjusted analyses showed that the associations of breastfeeding with asthma-related symptoms were not explained by eczema but partly by lower respiratory tract infections. Shorter duration and nonexclusivity of breastfeeding were associated with increased risks of asthma-related symptoms in preschool children. These associations seemed, at least partly, to be explained by infectious, but not by atopic, mechanisms. Copyright

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van der Sonnenschein-Voort, A., Jaddoe, V., van der Valk, R., Willemsen, S., Hofman, A., Moll, H., … Duijts, L. (2012). Duration and exclusiveness of breastfeeding and childhood asthma-related symptoms. The European Respiratory Journal, 39(1), 81–89. doi:10.1183/09031936.00178110