Family size, day-care attendance, and breastfeeding in relation to the incidence of childhood asthma

Claire Infante-Rivard, Devendra Amre, Denyse Gautrin, Jean Luc Malo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


A hypothesis has been suggested stating that children exposed early to infections are less likely to develop atopy or asthma. The authors investigated the relation between risk of childhood asthma and number of siblings as well as day-care attendance, as factors possibly increasing the likelihood of early infections, and breastfeeding as a factor reducing them. A case-control study was carried out in Montreal, Canada, between 1988 and 1995 that included 457 children diagnosed with asthma at 3-4 years of age and 457 healthy controls, Cases followed for 6 years were later classified as persistent or transient by the symptoms and use of medication after diagnosis. Among cases diagnosed at 3-4 years of age, the adjusted odds ratio for asthma was 0.54 (95% confidence interval (Cl): 0.36, 0.80) for one sibling and 0.49 (95% Cl: 0.30, 0.81) for two or more. The adjusted odds ratio for day-care attendance before 1 year of age was 0.59 (95% Cl: 0.40, 0.87). Results were similar with persistent cases. Among transient cases (who possibly had an infection with wheezing at 3-4 years of age), daycare attendance and a short duration of breastfeeding resulted in increased risk. The results support the hypothesis that opportunity for early infections reduces the risk of asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-658
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001


  • Asthma
  • Breast feeding
  • Child
  • Day care
  • Family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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