Skip to main content

Work Under Way

Question

What is the relationship between the duration of exclusive human milk and/or infant formula consumption and food allergies and atopic allergic diseases?

Approach to Answering the Question
Existing NESR Systematic Review

Subcommittee
Birth to 24 Months Subcommittee

Systematic Review Protocol
Developed for each scientific question being examined, the protocol describes the plan for how the systematic review will be conducted.

For this question, the existing NESR systematic reviews were conducted during the Pregnancy and Birth to 24 Months Project, and captured evidence published from January 1980 to March 2016. The Infant Milk-Feeding Practices Technical Expert Collaborative conducted the systematic reviews in collaboration with staff from USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review. Complete documentation of the three existing systematic reviews and the related publications in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is available on the NESR website:

For additional details, see the full protocol for the question, what is the relationship between the duration of exclusive human milk and/or infant formula consumption and food allergies and atopic allergic diseases? 

View Full Protocol

Draft Conclusion Statement

The draft conclusion statements listed below describe the state of the science related to the specific question examined. Draft conclusions are not considered final until they have been deliberated with and decided upon by the full Committee and published in the Committee’s final advisory report. Individual conclusion statements should not be interpreted as dietary guidance or the Committee’s overarching advice to the Departments. 

Ever vs Never Consuming Human Milk

Moderate evidence suggests that never, in comparison to ever, being fed human milk is associated with higher risk of childhood asthma. Grade: Moderate

Limited evidence does not suggest a relationship between never versus ever being fed human milk and atopic dermatitis in childhood. Grade: Limited

Evidence about the relationship between never versus ever being fed human milk and atopic dermatitis from birth to 24 months is inconclusive, and there is insufficient evidence to determine the relationship of never versus ever being fed human milk with food allergies throughout the lifespan, allergic rhinitis throughout the lifespan, asthma in adolescence or in adulthood, and atopic dermatitis in adolescence or in adulthood. Grade: Grade Not Assignable 

Duration of Any Human Milk Consumption Among Infants Fed Human Milk

Moderate evidence mostly from observational studies suggests that, among infants fed human milk, shorter versus longer durations of any human milk feeding are associated with higher risk of asthma in childhood and adolescence. Grade: Moderate

Limited evidence does not suggest a relationship between the duration of any human milk feeding and allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis in childhood. Grade: Limited 

Evidence about the relationship between shorter versus longer durations of any human milk feeding and atopic dermatitis from birth to 24 months is inconclusive, and there is insufficient evidence to determine the relationship of shorter versus longer durations of any human milk feeding with food allergies throughout the lifespan; allergic rhinitis from birth to 24 months, in adolescence, or in adulthood; asthma in adulthood; and atopic dermatitis in adolescence or in adulthood. Grade: Grade Not Assignable 

Duration of Exclusive Human Milk Consumption Prior to the Introduction of Infant Formula 

There is insufficient evidence to determine the relationship between shorter versus longer durations of exclusive human milk feeding prior to the introduction of infant formula and food allergies, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma throughout the lifespan. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Intensity, Proportion, or Amount of Human Milk Consumed by Mixed-Fed Infants 

There is no evidence to determine the relationship between feeding a lower versus higher intensity, proportion, or amount of human milk to mixed-fed infants and food allergies, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma throughout the lifespan. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Intensity, Proportion, or Amount of Human Milk Consumed at the Breast vs by Bottle

There is no evidence to determine the relationship between feeding a higher intensity, proportion, or amount of human milk by bottle versus by breast and food allergies, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma throughout the lifespan. Grade: Grade Not Assignable