Having eczema is no fun: The condition makes your skin red, itchy, and inflamed—and it tends to flare up at the worst times. Even though there’s no straight-up cure, scientists are beginning to understand more about eczema, namely why you got stuck with the frustratingly flaky condition as a teenager.
A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found breastfeeding could reduce the risk of eczema. In hospitals where breastfeeding educations and support programs were in place, there was a 54 percent reduced risk of the condition affecting the infants upon reaching teenage years—particularly when mothers breastfed for at least three months.
“There doesn’t seem to be an additional benefit of breastfeeding beyond the first three months of life with regard to the protective effect on eczema in adolescence.” — study co-author Carsten Flohr, MD
“Clearly, promoting breastfeeding is beneficial, but there doesn’t seem to be an additional benefit beyond the first three months of life with regard to the protective effect on eczema in adolescence,” study co-author Carsten Flohr, MD, told The Guardian.
Though breastfeeding may play a role in preventing eczema later on, Neena Modi, MD, wants to make clear that mothers shouldn’t be demonized if they don’t do it. The World Health Organization reports six months of breastfeeding gives little ones a major immune-system boost—but it all comes down to what a mother thinks is right for her child.