Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk of Eczema

Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk of EczemaMany studies detail the lifelong benefits of breastfeeding for children. From infancy to adulthood, breastfeeding is a gift that keeps on giving. New research shows that breastfeeding may reduce risk of eczema as breastfed children enter adolescence. And breastfeeding education played a major role in ensuring that new moms were successful in meeting their goals.

Published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, the study followed a group of new mothers and their children from infancy to teenagers. The mothers were given breastfeeding guidance from educators and had access to breastfeeding support programs.

The results showed teens who were breastfed for at least 3 months were more than 50% less likely to have eczema than those who were not breastfed for this amount of time.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition marked by inflammation, redness, bumpiness and itchiness. It can appear at any time but commonly rears its head in childhood or adolescence. Unfortunately there is no cure but certain foods and conditions can exacerbate the condition.

In babies, breastfeeding is rarely the cause of eczema. Breast milk is the perfect first food for infants because it is the ideal balance of hundreds of essential nutrients for growth and development. Plus, breast milk provides antibodies that bolster a baby’s immune system for her entire life, including making it less sensitive to allergens including those that cause eczema.

If you do think your breast milk is causing your baby to break out, look to your diet to see if you’re consuming some of the most common allergen triggers such as cow’s milk, shellfish and nuts.

Teenagers can develop eczema for a variety of reasons such as shifting hormones, stress, using new personal care products or expanding or changing their diet. Eczema tends to run in families so there is a genetic factor as well.

While there is no tried and true way to prevent eczema, nursing is a wonderful first step since breastfeeding may reduce risk of eczema later in life. Along with the hundreds of other lifelong benefits of breastfeeding, this is one your teenager will be grateful for in the future.

Sources: Well and Good, WebMD, KidsHealth and JAMA Pediatrics