Ear Infections

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These studies look at the link between breastfeeding and ear infections. For an in-depth look at the protective effect of breastfeeding on otitis media, see Unicef UK’s 2012 report, Preventing disease and saving resources.

Reduced ear infections and diarrhoea

This study explored the impact of breastmilk from the breast, expressed milk and formula milk on infants’ health in the first year of life. Researchers found that feeding at the breast can reduce the risk of otitis media (ear infection) compared with expressed milk, and that breastfeeding compared with formula feeding may reduce the risk of diarrhoea.

Boone, K, et al (2016), Feeding at the Breast and Expressed Milk Feeding: Associations with Otitis Media and Diarrhoea in Infants. The Journal of Pediatrics, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.04.006 

Reduced ear infection risk

This study explored the link between breastfeeding and rates of respiratory tract and ear infections in infants up to 12 months old. The authors found that the key risk factors of acute otitis media (AOM) included frequent viral upper respiratory tract infection, pathogenic bacterial colonisation and lack of breastfeeding. They observed that breastfeeding reduced the risk of AOM directly, but also decreased the risk of upper respiratory tract infection, which in itself was linked to AOM.

Chonmaitre, T, et al (2016). Acute Otitis Media and Other Complications of Viral Respiratory Infection. Pediatrics, 10.1542/peds.2015-3555