Breast Feeding Remains a Strong Protection against Infant Infections.
Background: Breast feeding prevents infections in infants. Those who are partially or never breast-fed and receiving bottle feeds are at higher risk of infections as compared to exclusive breast-fed infants. The objectives of this study were to record the effect of exclusive breast feeding versus partial and never breast feeding on infections in infants and also to find an association of infection with type of feed, gestation and vaccination status in infants till six months of age.
Material and Methods: A total of 500 Infants were included in this cross-sectional study. Information regarding pattern of feeding and infections was obtained by verbal interview of mother and the questionnaire was filled by the study physician. The outcome evaluated was infections in infants till one year of age. Categorical comparisons were made using chi square test. A ‘p’ value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Out of 500 infants, 59.4% were males. About 59.6% were exclusively breast-fed till 6 months of age, 31.2% were partially breast-fed and 9.2% were never breast-fed. In exclusively breast-fed group, 29.5% infants reported infections as compared to 40.4% in partial breast-fed group and 65.2% in never breast-fed infants (P < 0.000). Similarly, 40.6% of infants in exclusively breast-fed group, 55.1% in partial breast feed and 58.7% in the never breast-fed reported infections in 4-6 months of age, which was statistically significant (P = 0.003). There was no significant difference in infection rates among the three study groups in 7-9 (P=0.192) and 10 -12 months (P=0.42) of age.
Conclusions: Exclusive breast feeding till six months of age significantly reduces the risk of infections in infancy.
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