Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin, which we commonly see in our pediatric (and adult!) patients. It can cause itchy, dry skin that may become painful or get infected. A child’s likelihood of developing eczema can be influenced by both their environment and whether they have a family member with eczema, but we now also have research that suggests that babies who are exclusively breastfed may have a lower likelihood of developing eczema.
The link between breastfeeding and eczema is not yet conclusive, but it seems that children who were breastfed for the first few months of their life are not as likely to still have eczema at age 6 if they do develop eczema. There is also evidence that children with eczema, who were breastfed exclusively for at least 3 months, may have milder or shorter flares of their eczema during childhood.
We are still learning about this link between breastfeeding and eczema, but find this information to be helpful and promising as we continue to learn more about why certain skin conditions develop.
[The data analysis for this article, published in HealthDay News, was part of the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.]