Breastfeeding and risk of food allergy: A nationwide birth cohort in Japan

Naomi Matsumoto, Takashi Yorifuji, Kazue Nakamura, Masanori Ikeda, Hirokazu Tsukahara, Hiroyuki Doi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although breastfeeding has been well-established as the preferred method for infant nutrition, its prophylactic effects on food allergy remain controversial. Infantile eczema has been linked to food allergy via percutaneous sensitization; however, this relationship has not been considered in previous studies. We aimed to uncover the prophylactic effects of breastfeeding on food allergy, focusing on eczema-mediated percutaneous sensitization. Methods: This retrospective cohort study was based on 46,616 children from the Longitudinal Survey of Newborns in the 21st Century in Japan, begun in 2001. We classified participants into three groups based on infant feeding practices (exclusive breastfeeding, partial breastfeeding including only colostrum, and formula feeding only) and used information from at least one outpatient visit for food allergy during two observation periods (age 6–18 months and age 6–66 months) as health outcomes. We performed log-binomial regression analysis adjusted for potential confounders and stratified analysis according to infantile eczema status. Results: Compared with formula feeding, partial breastfeeding including only colostrum reduced the risk of food allergy only in children with infantile eczema, (RR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.46, 0.96 for age 6–66 months), whereas exclusive breastfeeding increased this risk in those without infantile eczema (RR = 2.41, 95% CI: 1.40, 4.15, age 6–66 months). The prophylactic effects of breastfeeding on food allergy in the infantile eczema group increased with shorter breastfeeding duration. Conclusions: Our results showed that breastfeeding, especially colostrum, had prophylactic effects on food allergy only among high-risk children with infantile eczema whereas prolonged breastfeeding increased the risk of food allergy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalAllergology International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Breastfeeding
  • Cohort
  • Colostrum
  • Eczema
  • Food allergy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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