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The Role of Breastfeeding in Childhood Otitis Media


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to summarize the recent literature, both systematic reviews and recently published original studies not included within those reviews, on the relationship between breastfeeding and childhood otitis media (OM).

Recent Findings

There is clear evidence that breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of OM in childhood with sound biological plausibility to support that the association is likely causal. Any breastfeeding reduces OM risk in early childhood by 40–50 %. Systematic reviews also support a further reduced risk for continued breastfeeding. Recent studies have estimated burden of disease savings if breastfeeding within countries and globally approached WHO guidelines. Cost savings per year for reduced cases of OM by increasing ever and exclusive breastfeeding rates are estimated to be millions of pounds or dollars for UK and Mexico.


Breastfeeding reduces OM in children. The burden of disease and economic impact of increasing breastfeeding rates and duration would be substantial.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Caroline J. Lodge.

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Conflict of Interest

Drs. Lodge, Bowatte, Matheson, and Dharmage declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Otitis

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Lodge, C.J., Bowatte, G., Matheson, M.C. et al. The Role of Breastfeeding in Childhood Otitis Media. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 16, 68 (2016).

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  • Breastfeeding and otitis media
  • Otitis media
  • Breastfeeding rates
  • AOM
  • Breast milk