Eczema Linked to Mixed Feeding Modes in Infants

Baby with infantile eczema
Baby with infantile eczema
Current infant feeding trends that promote pumping and feeding and mixed feeding modes may be of concern.

A mixed pattern of infant feeding since birth that includes the use of direct breastfeeding, pumping and feeding of stored breast milk, and formula is associated with a moderate increase in risk of the child developing eczema and skin allergy, according to results published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

The objective of the study was to investigate which feeding patterns in the first 6 months of life pose the highest risks for development of eczema/skin allergy in children up to 6 years of age compared with direct breastfeeding for ≥3 months. Data on feeding modes in infancy and physicians’ diagnosed eczema/skin allergy, provided by the US Infant Feeding Practices Study II and its 6-year follow-up, were based on parental reports. Overall, 1387 infants were included in the study.

Compared with direct breastfeeding for ≥3 months, infants who received a combination of feeding from the direct breast, pumping and feeding of breast milk, and formula feeding in early life had a significantly greater risk of developing eczema/skin allergies within the first 6 years of life (prevalence ratio, 1.46; P =.043).

Notably, direct breastfeeding and pumping and feeding of breast milk in the first 3 months of life, followed by mixed feeding, was also associated with an increased risk of developing eczema/skin allergies (prevalence ratio, 1.26); however, formula feeding since birth had no effect on risk. Both paternal eczema and race/ethnicity (white, Hispanic) were associated with a higher risk for eczema/skin allergy.

The researchers concluded that mixed infant feeding may carry a higher risk of developing eczema/skin allergy compared with direct breastfeeding. Current infant feeding trends that promote pumping and feeding and mixed feeding modes suggest additional studies are needed to better understand how they affect future development of allergies in children.

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Soto-Ramírez N, Kar S, Zhang H, Karmaus W. Infant feeding patterns and eczema in children in the first 6 years of life. Clin Exp Allergy. 2017;47(10):1285-1298.