Although it is now common knowledge that breast-feeding gives babies the best start in life, a new study has found that babies who are breast-fed beyond none months are prone to allergy.
Exclusive breast feeding for up to six months is known to offer protection against allergies like eczema and asthma. However extending exclusive breast-feeding beyond six months may increase the risk of developing allergies rather than increase the benefits, according to a report on New Scientist magazine.
Twenty years ago scientists at the Helsinki Skin and Allergy Hospital in Finland had asked 200 mothers to breast-feed their newborn children for as long as possible.
The breast fed children were assessed for allergies at the ages of five, 11 and 20. It was found that feeding children exclusively on breast milk for nine months or more appeared to increase their risk of allergic conditions such as eczema and food hypersensitivity.
In addition it was found that at age five, over half of children with a family history of allergy who had been breast-fed for at least nine months were showing allergic symptoms compared with one-fifth of those who had been breast-fed for between two and six months.
The researchers noted that those children who developed allergies after prolonged exclusive breast-feeding were often likely to do so during the first years.