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Breastfeeding Does Not Protect Babies from Eczema

We found no evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for four months or longer protects against eczema.

close up on baby's eye

Breastfeeding a baby for at least four months does not appear to reduce the chances of the baby eventually developing eczema, European researchers have found.

This is disappointing news, as earlier research had suggested that breastfeeding might help provide children with some protection against this uncomfortable and often painful skin disease.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, analyzed data from an international asthma and allergy study that involved more than 51,000 children worldwide. The data included information on how long each child was breastfed (if at all), when they were weaned, and whether or not they had allergies. The children had also been examined for eczema.

“We found no evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for four months or longer protects against eczema,” the study’s authors concluded.

But, they added, this doesn’t mean babies shouldn’t be breastfed. As many studies have shown, breastfeeding provides infants with significant nutritional and other health advantages. Eczema-free skin just doesn’t appear to be one of them.