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close this book4th Report on the World Nutrition Situation - Nutrition throughout the Life Cycle (SCN; 2000; 138 pages)
View the documentADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE ON COORDINATION/SUB-COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION - (ACC/SCN) THE UN SYSTEM’S FORUM FOR NUTRITION
View the documentINTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
View the documentFOREWORD
View the documentHIGHLIGHTS
View the documentCONTRIBUTORS
View the documentACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
View the documentLIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
View the documentPREFACE
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 1: NUTRITION THROUGHOUT THE LIFE CYCLE
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 2: MICRONUTRIENT UPDATE
close this folderCHAPTER 3: BREASTFEEDING AND COMPLEMENTARY FEEDING
View the document3.1 Evidence Linking Breastfeeding to Improved Outcomes
View the document3.2 Evidence Linking Complementary Feeding to Improved Outcomes
View the document3.3 Conceptualizing Infant Feeding Behaviours
View the document3.4 HIV and Infant Feeding
View the document3.5 Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding Patterns and Trends
View the document3.6 Role of National and International Initiatives in Support of Optimal Infant Feeding
View the document3.7 Looking Forward: The Importance of Exclusive Breastfeeding
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 4: NUTRITION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER 5: NUTRITION OF REFUGEES AND DISPLACED POPULATIONS
Open this folder and view contentsAPPENDICES
View the documentREFERENCES
View the documentBACK COVER
 

3.1 Evidence Linking Breastfeeding to Improved Outcomes

Breastfeeding contributes to infant nutrition and health through a number of important mechanisms. It provides a complete source, of nutrition for the first six months of life, half of all requirements in the second six months of life, and one-third of requirements in the second year of life.12 It provides immunity as well as other factors that protect against specific illnesses. When infants and children become ill, breastfeeding provides an important source of nutrients because intake of breastmilk is not reduced in contrast to the intake of complementary foods, which declines considerably.13-15 Furthermore, exclusive breastfeedinga eliminates the risk of illness through the use of contaminated foodstuffs and utensils. It also lengthens the period of postpartum amenorrhoea and hence, in the absence of contraceptive use, lengthens the birth interval, which is strongly related to infant and child survival.

 

a Breastfeeding with no other food or fluid given to the child, not even water.

Because infant feeding mode cannot be randomly assigned, all data on the protective effect of breastfeeding on morbidity and mortality are observational. However, the dose-response effect observed with exclusive breastfeeding, any breastfeeding, and no breastfeeding provides evidence of causality.16-19 The risk of death decreases dramatically as the infant ages; therefore the protective effect of breastfeeding on mortality is greatest in the first month of life and declines by month until 6 months.20 Many - though not all - studies continue to show protective effects until 12 months of life, and some studies show protective effects into the second year as well. A dose response has also been observed between the amount of breastmilk consumed through a naso gastric tube in preterm infants and cognitive development1 and between a longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding and reduced risk of obesity among school-age children.5 A similar pattern is observed with the protective effect of breastfeeding on morbidity, with the protective effects being greatest in the first 6 months of life and reduced thereafter.17, 18

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