Ecological study of effect of breast feeding on infant mortality in Latin America

Ana P Betrán, Mercedes de Onís, Jeremy A Lauer, José Villar

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Abstract

Objective: To estimate the effect of exclusive breast feeding and partial breast feeding on infant mortality from diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections in Latin America. Design: Attributable fraction analysis of national data on infant mortality and breast feeding. Setting: Latin America and the Caribbean. Main outcome measures: Mortality from diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections and nationally representative breastfeeding rates. Results: 55% of infant deaths from diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections in Latin America are preventable by exclusive breast feeding among infants aged 0-3 months and partial breast feeding throughout the remainder of infancy. Among infants aged 0-3 months, 66% of deaths from these causes are preventable by exclusive breast feeding; among infants aged 4-11 months, 32% of such deaths are preventable by partial breast feeding. 13.9% of infant deaths from all causes are preventable by these breastfeeding patterns. The annual number of preventable deaths is about 52 000 for the region. Conclusions: Exclusive breastfeeding of infants aged 0-3 months and partial breastfeeding throughout the remainder of infancy could substantially reduce infant mortality in Latin America. Interventions to promote breast feeding should target younger infants.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Medical Journal
Volume323
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2001

Keywords

  • breast feeding
  • infant mortality
  • Latin America

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