Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin, which we commonly see in our pediatric (and adult!) patients. It causes itchy, dry skin that may become painful or 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. However, it seems that children who were breastfed for their first few months are less likely to still have eczema at age 6. There is also evidence that children who were breastfed exclusively for at least 3 months have milder, shorter eczema flares.
We are still learning about this link between breastfeeding and eczema. However, we find this information to be 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.]