Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health

First Advisor

Dr. Derek Chapman


Purpose: Asthma can have significant adverse effects on the health and quality of life of children, and the prevalence of this condition continues to rise. Breastfeeding may protect against asthma, but some uncertainty remains. The purpose of this study was to further examine the relationship between breastfeeding and the risk of developing asthma in early childhood. Methods: Data were collected from the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey: National Survey of Children's Health, 2003. The study population consisted of 33,315 children ages 0 to 5 years. Prevalence rates of asthma and breastfeeding ,were calculated, as were crude and Mantel-Haenszel summary odds ratios for breastfeeding and other potential confounders including age, race, education, poverty, and tobacco use. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals aRer adjustment for these confounders. Results: Breastfeeding (never vs. ever) was significantly associated with an increased odds ratio of asthma among the children surveyed (POR = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.04, 1.34). In addition, children with asthma had a slightly lower mean duration of breastfeeding than did children without asthma. However, a significant trend of increasing odds ratios with increasing duration of breastfeeding was not found. It therefore appears that the act of ever breastfeeding, regardless of duration, exerts some protective effect against the development of asthma in early childhood. Conclusions: Never breastfeeding was found to be significantly associated with the development of asthma in early childhood. Age, race, education, poverty level, and tobacco use were also implicated in this association. While further research is needed to fully determine the effectiveness of breastfeeding in the primary prevention of asthma, public health efforts should focus on promoting breastfeeding as it has the potential improve the overall health of children.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Epidemiology Commons