Do infants who are breastfed experience fewer ear infections than infants who are formula fed?

Last updated: February 20, 2022
Yes. All the studies in this list that examine the question agreed on this conclusion. We identified all of these studies as literature reviews, which are studies that review and often evaluate the findings of many studies on a question. This gives us more confidence that the answer is correct.
This short answer was generated by aggregating the answers that each of the studies below gave to the question (as indicated by State of K members) and adjusting for source quality and other factors. If key studies are missing or the answers attributed to individual studies are incorrect, the above answer could be wrong. For medical questions, don't rely on the information here. Consult a medical professional.
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YES ANSWERS
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NO ANSWERS
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NO DATA ON ANSWER


Chart summary of 3 studies examining this question

All answers are assigned by State of K users. The label Couldn't Identify means that State of K was not able to determine whether a study answers the question "yes" or "no". This could be due to several factors. One possibility is that a study found some evidence to indicate that the answer to the question is "yes" and some evidence to indicate that the answer is "no". This often happens when a study uses two or more proxies to study the same phenomenon (i.e. firearm sales figures and self-reported firearm ownership rates as proxies for the prevalence of firearms) and the proxies yield different results when looking for correlations with another phenomenon (i.e. firearm-related deaths). Alternatively, the label may be applied if the phenomenon under study (i.e. whether breast milk improves cognitive function) is true for one group, but not another (i.e. true for girls, but not for boys). Yet another possibility is that a study found there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion regarding the question. Finally, the full text or abstract of a study may not have been written clearly or was inaccessible. This would make it difficult to determine how a study answered a question.

All labels of Literature Reviews and source quality are assigned by State of K. All labels of High Quality Source are assigned based on whether the publication in which the article appeared was ranked as Q1 by Scimago Institutions Rankings. Certain well-regarded think tanks are also given this label.

Literature Reviews
Although we recommend you consider all of the studies below, we believe the following studies are literature reviews, which survey and evaluate many studies on this question:

SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 3
Sorted by publication year
1
The Effect of Breastfeeding on Childhood Otitis Media
"Purpose of ReviewThe purpose of this review is to summarize the literature regarding the association between breastfeeding and childhood otitis media (OM), with focus on the literature published within the past 5 years. The review comprises original articles and recent reviews.Recent FindingsThe effect of a protective effect of breastfeeding on the risk of OM is still being discussed. Within the past 5 years, 6 reviews and 15 original articles have been published. No randomized controlled trials have been published, and the diversity of exposure and outcome measures in the studies was significant. Also, we provide a summary of the recent literature on cost-benefit of breastfeeding and believed mechanism of protection against OM.SummaryBreastfeeding for more than 6 months seems to protect against OM during the first 6 years of life. Exclusive breastfeeding may have a more protective effect than non-exclusive breastfeeding. Introduction of formula feeding before the age of 6 months increased the risk of OM."
AUTHOR
Asbjørn Kørvel-Hanquist
PUBLISHED
2017 Current Allergy and Asthma Reports
Literature Review
Yes
Yes
2
The Role of Breastfeeding in Childhood Otitis Media
"Purpose of ReviewThe 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 FindingsThere 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.SummaryBreastfeeding reduces OM in children. The burden of disease and economic impact of increasing breastfeeding rates and duration would be substantial."
AUTHOR
Caroline J. Lodge
PUBLISHED
2016 Current Allergy and Asthma Reports
Literature Review
Yes
Yes
3
Breastfeeding and Childhood Acute Otitis Media: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
"AimTo synthesise the evidence on the association between duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding and the risk of acute otitis media (AOM).MethodsSystematic review and meta-analysis following searching of PubMed, CINAHL and EMBASE electronic databases.ResultsTwenty-four studies, all from the USA or Europe, met the inclusion criteria. In the pooled analyses, any form of breastfeeding was found to be protective for AOM in the first 2 years of life. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months was associated with the greatest protection (OR 0.57 95% CI 0.44, 0.75), followed by ‘more vs less’ breastfeeding (OR 0.67; 0.59, 0.76) and ‘ever vs never’ breastfeeding (OR 0.67; 0.56, 0.80).ConclusionThis systematic review and meta-analysis provides evidence that breastfeeding protects against AOM until 2 years of age, but protection is greater for exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding of longer duration. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months was associated with around a 43% reduction in ever having AOM in the first 2 years of life. After 2 years of age, there is no evidence that breastfeeding protects against AOM; however, there were few studies and the evidence quality was low."
AUTHOR
Gayan Bowatte
PUBLISHED
2015 Acta Paediatrica
Literature Review
Yes
Yes