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Effect of breastfeeding on atopic dermatitis among Saudi infants up to 6 months old in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Tahani Magliah, Salwa Bardisi, Ahmad Alliali.

Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common health problem. The increase in the incidence of atopy has been referred to as alarming by some researchers. AD is an itchy skin condition that appears in infants, often involving the flexural areas inside the elbows and knees. It presents with redness, dryness, scaling, and crusts over much of the body.

Objective: To investigate the effect of breastfeeding on AD among infants up to 6 months.

Materials and Methods: Two hundred infants were involved in this cross-sectional study. Their ages ranged from birth up to 6 months. The positive cases of AD were confirmed and diagnosed by pediatricians as the mothers approved. They were chosen randomly by filling the questionnaires through their mothers. Then, the questionnaires were collected, and were separated into two groups: exclusively breastfeeding children (n=100) and formula milk (bottled milk) exclusively feeding infants (n=100). They were compared for any attacks of AD, number of attacks, severity, and areas involved in AD.

Result: Of the 100 exclusively breastfed infants, 43 (43%) developed AD, while of 100 exclusively formula milk-fed infants, 63 (63%) developed AD. The difference was statistically significant (P=0.0003). Three (6.9%) exclusively breastfed children compared with 19 (30.1%) exclusively formula milk-fed infants needed hospitalization to relieve their symptoms (P = 0.00026).

Conclusion: Breastfeeding is a protective factor to decrease the number of attacks of AD and lessen the severity of each attack. Therefore, breastfeeding since birth is recommended as a protective factor or/and immune factor to decrease the number of attacks and the severity of each attack of AD.

Key words: Atopic dermatitis, breastfeeding, formula feeding, infants

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