Background Classically, breastfeeding is considered to have a protective effect on allergy in children. On the other hand, the early introduction of cow milk may be associated to development of allergic diseases in childhood.
Aim To asses the relationship between feeding habits and development of allergic diseases (mainly asthma) in children admitted to a paediatric department.
Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of 621 children aged 3–12 years admitted in our department during 2013. The study group comprised 356 patients diagnosed with asthma (238 aged 3 to 6). We conducted a stratified analysis based on age and correlated to infant feeding, using the chi squared test.
Results In the study group, 56 children aged under 6 were breastfeed more than 6 months vs. 60 in the control group: p = 0.005, RR = 0.77(0.63–0.95). 32 asthmatic children aged over 6 were breastfeed at list 6 months vs. 32 in the non-asthma group p = 0.07, RR = 0.82(0.62–1.09). Regarding the introduction of cow milk before 12 months, the stratified results by age were: p = 0.009 and RR = 1.21(1.03–1.43) and, respectively, p = 0.02 and RR = 1.28 (1.01–1.62). The use of a hypoallergenic formula was not statistically significant between groups: p = 0.12 and respectively 0.27.
Conclusion Breastfeeding had a protective effect during the early childhood, whilst the introduction of cow milk correlated with asthma in both age groups. Hipoalergenic formulas seemed to have no protective effect in our study.