Breastfeeding: Protection from Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Xu L, et al. Systematic review with meta-analysis: breastfeeding and the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitisAliment Pharmacol Ther2017;46:780-789. to Mike Hart for this reference.

From abstract:


A total of 35 studies were included in the final analysis, comprising 7536 individuals with CD, 7353 with UC and 330 222 controls. Ever being breastfed was associated with a lower risk of CD (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.59-0.85) and UC (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.67-0.91). While this inverse association was observed in all ethnicity groups, the magnitude of protection was significantly greater among Asians (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.20-0.48) compared to Caucasians (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.66-0.93; P = .0001) in CD. Breastfeeding duration showed a dose-dependent association, with strongest decrease in risk when breastfed for at least 12 months for CD (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.08-0.50) and UC (OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.10-0.43) as compared to 3 or 6 months.

From associated editorial by David Rakel:

This meta-analysis of 35 studies shows that there is a dose–response protective effect of the duration of breastfeeding on inflammatory bowel disease. The association shows as much as an 80% reduction in risk for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis for breastfeeding more than 12 months.

Breast Feeding Graph

Inflammatory bowel disease arises from a complex set of interactions related to genetic susceptibility, environmental exposures, and a dysregulated immune response to dysbiotic intestinal microbiota, according to the study authors. These data will give us one more reason to encourage breastfeeding, ideally for a year or more.

Related blog post: Nutrition Week (Day 7) Connecting Diet and Epidemiology in IBD



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