Breastfeeding may more than DOUBLE the risk of food allergies 'if parents delay ...

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Breastfed babies may be at greater risk of developing food allergies, according to research.

Japanese scientists found infants who were exclusively breastfed were more than twice as likely to be treated for a food allergy.

The experts, who analysed how 46,000 infants were fed, say breastfeeding mothers may be more likely to delay weaning.

Research suggests children are more likely to develop allergies against certain food proteins if they are not exposed to them 'early enough'.

Breastfed babies may be at greater risk of food allergies, research suggests (stock)

Breastfed babies may be at greater risk of food allergies, research suggests (stock)

However, the Okayama University researchers found only the babies without eczema faced an increased risk of a food allergy.

The infants with the common skin condition who were breastfed were 36 per cent less likely to develop a food allergy. 

Breastfeeding is thought to boost 'oral tolerance' in youngsters with 'skin barrier dysfunction', according to the researchers led by Dr Naomi Matsumoto.

It has long been known that 'breast is best', with evidence suggesting a mother's milk protects against infections, obesity and diabetes, the scientists wrote in the journal Allergology International.

The World Health Organization recommends all babies are exclusively breastfed for six months.

When it comes to its effect on food allergies, however, studies have thrown up mixed results.

These 'inconsistencies' may have come about due to past scientists not considering how eczema raises the risk of food allergies, the team wrote.

This is thought to occur through 'percutaneous sensitisation', a recent theory that food proteins can cross the skin.

What is the NHS advice for breastfeeding mothers?

The NHS guidance for getting your baby to latch onto your breast is as follows:  

Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple. Wait until your baby opens their mouth really wide with their tongue down. You

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