Study: The relationship between breastfeeding, body mass index, and asthma in children

Study by Oddy et al in American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) explores relationships between breastfeeding, body mass index, and asthma and atopy in children 0-6 years old in Perth, Western Australia. Oddy WH, Sherriff JL, de Klerk NH, Kendall GE, Sly PD, Beilin LJ, Blake KB, Landau LI, Stanley FJ. 2004. The Relation of Breastfeeding and Body Mass Index to Asthma and Atopy in Children: A Prospective Cohort Study to Age 6 Years.American Journal of Public Health, 94 (9): 1531-1537. This paper summarizes results of a prospective birth cohort study of 2195 of 2860 children followed to age six; 1596 had atopy determined by skin prick tests. About 1 in 6 of the study children had current asthma, which meant doctor-diagnosed asthma and reported wheezing in last 12 months. About 2 in 5 of the study children tested for atopy had positive skin prick tests. About 1 in 6 mothers were asthmatics. The potential exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was high in this study population, per questionnaire results (about 2/5 reported maternal smoking during pregnancy, and any parental smoking at age six). The mean BMI across gender was about 16; the risk of asthma was significantly higher at higher BMI, especially BMI 26-30, but the study cannot determine for certain if BMI is a risk factor for asthma or if asthma is a risk factor for higher BMI, due to decreased physical activity or another reason (re: CAFA newsletter No. 2, summary article on what we know about asthma and obesity, on this website’s home page fall-winter 2004-05). In addition, less exclusive breastfeeding, i.e., fewer months (0-2) before other milk sources were reported to be introduced, led to a statistically significant risk of current asthma among six year old study children. For the abstract of the study, go to: //