How Breastfeeding May Reduce the Risk of Allergies

lizzie79 By lizzie79, 16th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Babies

One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is that it reduces the risk of allergies in childhood. Here is an overview of studies that support this.


The fact that there are many benefits to breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother are widely known. One of the benefits for a breastfed baby is the reduced risk of having food allergies and this has been evidenced in many studies. Childhood allergies are increasing in occurrence and as many as one in five children may have allergies. Here is a look at some of the research that shows that children who are breastfed are less likely to experience food allergies.

American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)

Research by the AAP shows that breastfeeding for the first four months significantly reduces the risk of milk and food allergies as well as eczema for high-risk children for the first two years of their lives. Furthermore, the report goes on to say that if there is a family history of food allergies, the mother should breastfeed for at least six months.

Grasky & Lawrence

One researcher who has undertaken a study of the benefits of breastfeeding is Grasky, 1982. This long-term study showed that children who have been breastfed are less likely to have allergies because they have been exposed to fewer allergens from a young age. Another researcher is Lawrence, 1994. Lawrence's research suggests that the incidence of allergies in bottle fed babies is up to seven times greater than those who were breastfed, particularly with regards to cow's milk allergies. Like Grasky, Lawrence suggests that this is due to an increased exposure to allergens.

HOw Breastfeeding Protects

There are thought to be two ways in which breastfeeding can lower the risk of food allergies. The first reason is that breastfed babies are not given formula milk that is based on cow's milk or soy milk. As they are not exposed to these, they are less likely to develop an allergy to these foodstuffs. The second reason relates to the development of the immune system. While in the womb, the baby depends on antibodies to be passed through the mother's womb. If a baby is breastfed, they continue to get antibodies via their mother. The babies digestive system does not begin to develop immunoglobulins and antibodies until the baby is six weeks old. They are six months old before their digestive system is mature enough to fight off foreign bodies. Until this time, a mother's milk provides the antibodies for the baby. This is a protection that bottle fed babies do not have.


Many studies have shown that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of developing food allergies in comparison to babies who are fed formula milk. Research has shown that this is particularly the case in high risk babies from families with a history of food allergies. Breastfeeding reduces the risk by providing the babies with antibodies and reducing the risk of exposure to allergens.


Allergies, Babies, Baby, Breastfeeding, Feeding, Health, Parenting

Meet the author

author avatar lizzie79
I am a mum of four who has worked as a professional freelance writer for the past five years and formerly worked in education. I love to write about education, parenting, fashion, health, and travel.

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author avatar Azila
16th Jun 2014 (#)

I did breast feeding to both of my kids and they grew up really great!

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