Exclusive breastfeeding and infections in infancy

January 01, 0001

Exclusive breastfeeding and infections in infancy

These Dutch researchers examined the association of exclusive breastfeeding with upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI), and gastrointestinal tract infections (GI) in infancy. This study (n=4164) was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort study in the Netherlands starting with fetal life following from there. Rates of breastfeeding during the first 6 months were characterized as never, partial for <4 months but not thereafter, partial for 4-6 months, exclusive for 4 months but not thereafter, exclusive for 4 months and partial thereafter, and exclusive for 6 months. The occurrence URTI, LRTI, and GI until the age of 12 months were assessed by questionnaires.

The researchers found: "Compared with never-breastfed infants, those who were breastfed exclusively until the age of 4 months and partially thereafter had lower risks of infections in the URTI, LRTI, and GI until the age of 6 months (adjusted odds ratio {aOR} 0.65, aOR 0.50, and aOR 0.41, respectively) and of LRTI infections between the ages of 7 and 12 months (aOR: 0.46). Similar tendencies were observed for infants who were exclusively breastfed for 6 months or longer. Partial breastfeeding, even for 6 months, did not result in significantly lower risks of these infections."

The researchers concluded: "Exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 4 months and partially thereafter was associated with a significant reduction of respiratory and gastrointestinal morbidity in infants. Our findings support health-policy strategies to promote exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months, but preferably 6 months, in industrialized countries."

This study find evidence of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in decreasing risk of infections in infants

For the full abstract, click here.

Pediatrics 126(1:e18-e25, July 2010
© 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics
Prolonged and Exclusive Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Infectious Diseases in Infancy. Liesbeth Duijts, Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Henriëtte A. Moll.

Category: T. Endocrine/Metabolic/Nutritional. Keywords: breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, duration, infections, infants, prospective cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 13 August 2010

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