Association between infant feeding patterns and diarrhoeal and respiratory illness: a cohort study in Chittagong, Bangladesh

Seema Mihrshahi, Wendy H. Oddy, Jennifer K. Peat, Iqbal Kabir

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Background: In developing countries, infectious diseases such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections are the main cause of mortality and morbidity in infants aged less than one year. The importance of exclusive breastfeeding in the prevention of infectious diseases during infancy is well known. Although breastfeeding is almost universal in Bangladesh, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding remain low. This cohort study was designed to compare the prevalence of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection (ARI) in infants according to their breastfeeding status in a prospective cohort of infants from birth to six months of age. Methods: A total of 351 pregnant women were recruited in the Anowara subdistrict of Chittagong. Breastfeeding practices and the 7-day prevalence of diarrhoea and ARI were recorded at monthly home visits. Prevalences were compared using chi-squared tests and logistic regression. Results: A total of 272 mother-infant pairs completed the study to six months. Infants who were exclusively breastfed for six months had a significantly lower 7-day prevalence of diarrhoea [AOR for lack of EBF = 2.50 (95%CI 1.10, 5.69), p = 0.03] and a significantly lower 7-day prevalence of ARI [AOR for lack of EBF = 2.31 (95%CI 1.33, 4.00), p < 0.01] than infants who were not exclusively breastfed. However, when the association between patterns of infant feeding (exclusive, predominant and partial breastfeeding) and illness was investigated in more detail, there was no significant difference in the prevalence of diarrhoea between exclusively [6.6% (95% CI 2.8, 10.4)] and predominantly breastfed infants [3.7% (95% CI 0.09, 18.3), (p = 0.56)]. Partially breastfed infants had a higher prevalence of diarrhoea than the others [19.2% (95% CI 10.4, 27.9), (p = 0.01)]. Similarly, although there was a large difference in prevalence in acute respiratory illness between exclusively [54.2% (95%CI 46.6, 61.8)] and predominantly breastfed infants [70.4% (95%CI 53.2, 87.6)] there was no significant difference in the prevalence (p = 0.17). Conclusion: The findings suggest that exclusive or predominant breastfeeding can reduce rates of morbidity significantly in this region of rural Bangladesh.
Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Breastfeeding Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright the Author(s) 2008. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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