Monday, March 22, 2010

A few studies published in Pediatrics

Any practice or recommendation that makes breastfeeding more difficult increases risks of death for the baby. A few studies are summarized here. Go to the original document for the details and methods of the studies. Keep in mind that there could be an increased risk of suffocation in breastfeeding babies and caution should always be used, especially when the child is in bed or on a sofa with a parent.

SIDS is twice as likely in formula-fed babies.

Vennemann, M. M., T. Bajanowski, et al. (2009). "Does Breastfeeding Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?" Pediatrics 123(3): e406-410.

In the last 20 years, the prevention campaigns to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome were very successful. In some countries the advice to breastfeed is included in the campaigns' messages, but in other countries it is not.

...Exclusive breastfeeding at 1 month of age halved the risk, partial breastfeeding at the age of 1 month also reduced the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, but after adjustment this risk was not significant. Being exclusively breastfed in the last month of life/before the interview reduced the risk, as did being partially breastfed. Breastfeeding survival curves showed that both partial breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding were associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome. ..This study shows that breastfeeding reduced the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by [~]50% at all ages throughout infancy. We recommend including the advice to breastfeed through 6 months of age in sudden infant death syndrome risk-reduction messages.

Over 6 years ago Chen & Rogan attributed 720 postneonatal deaths per year to “not breastfeeding.” “Not breastfeeding” means formula feeding, or feeding something even less appropriate than formula.

Chen, A. and W. J. Rogan (2004). "Breastfeeding and the risk of postneonatal death in the United States." Pediatrics 113(5): e435-9.

Breastfed infants in the United States have lower rates of morbidity, especially from infectious disease, but there are few contemporary studies in the developed world of the effect of breastfeeding on postneonatal mortality. We evaluated the effect of breastfeeding on postneonatal mortality in United States using 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey (NMIHS) data... Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in risk for postneonatal death. This large data set allowed robust estimates and control of confounding, but the effects of breast milk and breastfeeding cannot be separated completely from other characteristics of the mother and child. Assuming causality, however, promoting breastfeeding has the potential to save or delay approximately 720 postneonatal deaths in the United States each year.

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