Effects of breast milk on Behçet’s disease clinical features

Konak H. E., Erden A., Armağan B., Güven S. C., Apaydin H., Dağli P. A., ...More

Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences, vol.53, no.1, pp.121-129, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.55730/1300-0144.5565
  • Journal Name: Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.121-129
  • Keywords: Beh?et?s disease, breastfeeding, innate immunity, sacroiliitis
  • Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University Affiliated: Yes


Background/aim: The etiology of Behçet’s disease (BD) is not clearly known, however, abnormal activity in T helper (Th) 1, Th 17, and regulatory T cells (Treg) has critical importance in pathogenesis. It has been shown that the intestinal microbiome can be effective in the modulation of these immune abnormalities in BD patients. Breastfeeding increases the maturation of the infant’s intestinal permeability by affecting the newborn’s immature intestinal microbiome and metagenome. We aimed to examine the effects of breastfeeding on disease related symptoms, organ involvements and course of the disease in BD patients. Materials and methods: This study was designed as a cross-sectional study in Ankara City Hospital rheumatology clinic between December 2021 and March 2022. Patients who were diagnosed with BD by meeting the criteria of the ‘International Study Group’ and whose information we could access by agreeing to participate in the study were enrolled. The mothers of the patients were also contacted and asked whether these patients were breastfed, the duration of breastfeeding, and the mode of birth. Demographic and clinical data of the patients, comorbid diseases, and drugs used for BD were collected from the records in the hospital database. The presence of sacroiliitis in patients was evaluated with sacroiliac X-ray and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which was requested because of low back pain symptoms and only patients with previous sacroiliac imaging for low back pain were included in the study. BD-related organ damage was measured by the Vasculitis Damage Index (VDI) and Behçet’s syndrome Overall Damage Index (BODI) scores. Results: A total of 304 patients were included in the study. The percentage of patients who were reported to have ever breastfed (median duration (IQR): 12(12) months, 33.5% < 6 months, 66.4% ≥ 6 months, and 59.6% ≥ 12 months) is 92%. When the breastfed and nonbreastfed patients were compared, 6.8% of the breastfed patients needed TNF-i against 18.2% of the nonbreastfed patients (p = 0.052). While the rate of having at least one comorbidity was 26.4% for those who were breastfed, this rate was 50% for those who had never been breastfed. When the organ and system involvements of the patients were compared, the incidence of sacroiliitis was statistically significantly higher in the nonbreastfed group (p = 0.025). Patients who were breastfed for less than 6 months were diagnosed with BD at an earlier age than those who were breastfed for more than 6 months, and those who were breastfed for less than 12 months compared to those who were breastfed for more than 12 months (respectively, p = 0.039, p = 0.035). Conclusion: Our results imply that history of breastfeeding may have some positive effects on the course of the disease in BD patients.