Breastfeeding vs Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the skin which is atopic, hereditary, and non-contagious. The skin of a patient with atopic dermatitis reacts abnormally and easily to irritants, food, and environmental allergens and becomes red, flaky and very itchy. It also becomes vulnerable to surface infections caused by bacteria. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children has been rapidly rising throughout the world. Atopic dermatitis now affects 10-20% of children. Even, its prevalence in the United States alone has nearly tripled in the past thirty to forty years.

There is no certain cause of atopic dermatitis. However, it is an inherited disease that might be triggered by stress or fatigue and also allergens. On the other side, urbanization and westernization could be major factors responsible for this trend of atopic dermatitis in developing countries. Early life events, such as infection, introduction of foods other than maternal milk, etc, play a significant role in the clinical manifestation of atopic diseases in children.

There were several studies that have shown that breastfeeding offers a safe and effective mode of protection against atopic dermatitis during the first year of life, although some studies do not support this finding. Therefore, the issue of protective effect of breastfeeding in the development of atopic dermatitis remains controversial. However, there are many literatures that support the capability of breastfeeding in the prevention of allergic disease as one of the most cause of atopic dermatitis.

According to the research conducted by Anush Sahakyan, et. al. in Armenia, the developing of atopic dermatitis in children was affected by an introducing solids food to an infant before his/her 4th month of age (it will increase the risk of developing atopic dermatitis later in the childhood), antibiotic exposure in first year of life, and paternal and maternal history of atopy. Breastfeeding will increase the risk of atopic dermatitis only in children breastfed by atopic mothers, especially for 6 months or longer. However, in Armenia, according to the National Breastfeeding Program, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies exclusively for months and to continue breastfeeding for 2 years with complementary feeding, except for mothers who possess hereditary disease not recommended to breastfeed their babies.


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