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Breastfeeding and Respiratory Tract Infections during the First 2 Years of Life.

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posted on 2017-06-05, 15:33 authored by Jingying Wang, Alban Ramette, Maja Jurca, Myrofora Goutaki, Caroline S. Beardsmore, Claudia E. Kuehni
Breastfeeding protects against respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in infants [1–3], but whether its effects persist beyond that age is not well understood. Some studies have reported that protection diminishes soon after weaning [2], while others have found that it extends until the age of 2 years [4] or more [5, 6]. It is noteworthy that many previous studies grouped RTIs broadly into upper or lower tract infections, rather than studying specific diseases [3, 7], and few adjusted adequately for confounding factors [5] or investigated a possible effect modification by sex, which had been suggested by several studies showing a stronger protection in girls [8, 9]. This study aimed to quantify the protective effect of breastfeeding against RTIs during the first 2 years of life, while adjusting for potential confounding factors and testing whether the effect varied by sex. We analysed data from the Leicester Respiratory Cohorts, a population-based random sample of children from Leicestershire, UK, which has been described in detail elsewhere [10]. For this analysis we included only children born between 1996 and 1997 who were aged 1–1.99 years at the date of the first survey in 1998. Parents completed a standardised questionnaire that requested detailed information on breastfeeding and respiratory symptoms. We assessed the duration of breastfeeding (no breastfeeding, ⩽6 months or >6 months), the prevalence of frequent colds (>6 episodes), ear infections and croup within the last 12 months, and any episodes of bronchiolitis or pneumonia. We extracted perinatal data and demographic information from maternity records. The Leicestershire Health Authority Research Ethics Committee approved the study. The survey requested information on a number of RTIs for each child, so we first performed an omnibus logistic regression to determine whether breastfeeding was associated with the occurrence of any RTI. By reforming the data into long format, this omnibus logistic regression also adjusted for the clustering of observations within each child [11]. Following a significant omnibus test, we performed unadjusted and adjusted logistic regressions to determine which RTIs were affected by breastfeeding practice. Adjusted models controlled for sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (Townsend deprivation score [12]), perinatal factors (gestational age, birthweight, birth season), environmental factors ( pre- and post-natal maternal smoking, number of older siblings, day care attendance) and parental history of asthma, hay fever and bronchitis. We tested for effect modification by sex by adding interaction terms into adjusted models. Finally, we performed a sensitivity analysis including a subgroup of children with information on exact breastfeeding duration, by using breastfeeding as a continuous exposure, rather than categorical. All analyses were performed in Stata (version 14.2, Stata Corporation, Austin, TX, USA). The survey in 1998 was sent to 5400 families with children aged between 1 and 1.99 years. Questionnaires were returned by 4100 parents (response rate of 76%). After excluding 47 children who had no breastfeeding information and 13 children born extremely prematurely (gestational age of <28 weeks [13]), 4040 children remained in the analysis. Of these, 52% were boys, 81% were white and 19% were of South Asian ethnic origin, 1659 (41%) had never been breastfed, 1639 (41%) had been breastfed for ⩽6 months and 742 (18%) for >6 months. Of the 4040 included children, 769 (19%) were reported by their parents to have had frequent colds, 1685 (42%) ear infections and 293 (7%) croup within the last 12 months. Any episodes of bronchiolitis were reported for 453 children (11%) and pneumonia for 53 (1%)



European Respiratory Journal Open Research, 2017, 3: 00143-2016

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/School of Medicine/Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation


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European Respiratory Journal Open Research


European Respiratory Society: ERJ





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