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Maternal Modification and Breastfeeding

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sample size (n=65) which may have also prevented any significant findings. Lilja et al.(1991) found no effect with maternal egg and cows milk reduction. A more stringent dietary guideline may be necessary in order to prevent allergenic proteins being transferred to a child causing sensitisation.

The results of this study do not support the original hypothesis of a protective effect of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding duration had no impact on eczema or asthma. These findings were similar to Kramer et al., (2007). Evidence has been contradictory on these markers mainly due to age at follow up. The effects of breastfeeding may potentially change during childhood from a protective effect to one of increased allergy risk in adolescence (Matheson et al., In Press & Sears et al., 2002). Due to the nature of the data, age comparisons of eczema and asthma were not able to be made.

In cotradiction to the original hypothesis, breastfeeding was a risk factor for sensitisation before the age of one with no effect after this age. This finding was inconsistent with past studies which found a preventative effect of extended breastfeeding duration on food sensitisation (Matheson et al., In Press, Kull, et al., 2002, Saarinen & Kajosaari, 1995). Since it is not possible to truly randomise a study on breastfeeding length due to ethical considerations, there may be some characteristics of women who choose to breastfeed for a longer period which impacted on allergy outcomes. Those mothers following suggested breastfeeding guidelines may be more heath conscious and more aware of atopic risk factors.

The findings of the present study suggest that allergens in breast milk may be sensitising infants. In those breastfed for a longer duration, there was an increased time period for potential senstisation through breast milk, however, after this age breastfeeding duration did not affect allergy outcomes.

The Hygiene hypothesis may also provide some explanation for the increased risk of sensitisation among those breastfed for 6 months or longer. Breast milk may provide antiviral antibodies and other factors which reduce the incidence of infections. Those

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