The objective of this review was to review the scientific literature regarding the impact of early feeding (breast milk and/or cow's milk and/or formula) on the development of atopic disease. The search in the literature identified 4,323 articles that contained at least one of the exposure and health effect terms. A total of 4,191 articles were excluded mainly because they did not contain information on both exposure and health effects. Consequently, 132 studies were scrutinised by this review group.

Of the 132 studies selected, 56 were regarded as conclusive. Several factors contributed to the exclusions. The studies considered conclusive by the review group were categorised according to population and study design.

The review group concluded that breastfeeding seems to protect from the development of atopic disease. The effect appears even stronger in children with atopic heredity.

J van Odijk et al (2003). Breastfeeding and allergic disease: a multidisciplinary review of the literature (1966-2001) on the mode of early feeding in infancy and its impact on later atopic manifestations. Allergy 58(9): 833-43.