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Duration of breast-feeding and the risk of childhood allergic diseases in a developing country

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Exclusive breast-feeding (EBF) seems to reduce risk of allergies in the western countries, but there are few reports from developing countries. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of EBF on the development of allergic diseases and eczema in a developing country. This is a cross-sectional survey done at the well-baby clinics of 11 primary health centers, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar. A multistage sampling design was used and a representative sample of 1500 children (0–5 years old) and mothers (18–47 years old) were surveyed between October 2006 and September 2007. Of them, 1278 mothers (85.2%) participated in the study. A confidential, anonymous questionnaire assessing breast-feeding and allergic diseases was completed by mothers bringing children for immunization. Questionnaire included allergic rhinitis, wheezing, eczema, type and duration of breast-feeding, parental smoking habits, number of siblings, family income, maternal education, and parental allergies. Univariate and multivariate statistical methods were performed for statistical analysis. More than one-half of the infants (59.3%) were on EBF. Length of breast-feeding was associated with maternal age. Prevalence of eczema (19.4%), allergic rhinitis (22.6%), and wheezing (12.7%) were significantly less frequent in those with prolonged (>6 months) compared with short-term fed infants. The association between EBF and eczema tended to be similar in children with a positive family history of atopy (p < 0.001) and eczema (p < 0.001) compared with those without. In children of developing countries, prolonged breast-feeding reduces the risk of developing allergic diseases and eczema even in the presence of maternal allergy, where it might be a practical, effective preventive measure.
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Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; Qatar; allergies; breast-feeding; children; eczema; questionnaire; risk factors; wheezing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics Allergy and Immunology, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar 2: Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar; Department of Evidence for Population Health Unit, School of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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