Monday, January 07, 2008

US News and World Report - where do you find your health experts?

Note to Editors of US News and World Report and Amanda Gardner:
Thank you for your article on breastfeeding and atopy, that starts out with the latest research on the subject:http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/healthday/080107/breast-feeding-seems-to-protect-against-some-allergies.htm You first quoted the respected researcher, Dr. Frank Greer. However, you then offer extensive rebuttal and the last word Jennifer Wu who, while a well published researcher in her field, is neither a researcher nor an expert on this subject matter, nor even a pediatrician who could offer clinical comment.
While it is reasonable to provide alternative “opinions”, please ensure that those identified have equivalent expertise in the same subject matter. I do not believe that anyone involved in research on this issue would have given these quotes. Hence you may be misinforming the public on this important health issue.
Further, the alternative opinion, in this case, is not what is accepted in the field. The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research hosted a comprehensive review of the topic. See: http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/brfout/brfout.pdf, p. 16 and more, excerpt below.
Atopic Dermatitis. One good quality meta-analysis of 18 prospective cohort studies on full term infants reported a reduction in the risk of atopic dermatitis by 42 percent (95% CI 8% to 59%) in children with a family history of atopy and exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months compared with those who were breastfed for less than 3 months. The meta-analysis did not distinguish between atopic dermatitis of infancy (under 2 years of age) and persistent or new atopic dermatitis at older ages.
Thank you for your ongoing attention to ensuring the accuracy of your reporting in your most respected magazine.

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