Breastfeeding Decreases Infant Mortality
Research Triangle Park, N.C. Data analyzed by scientists at the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggest that
breastfeeding can reduce the risk of death for infants in their
first year of life. Looking at infants between 28 days and one year
of age, researchers concluded that promoting breastfeeding can potentially
prevent up to 720 postneonatal deaths in the U.S. each year.
Researchers compared CDC records of 1,204 children who died between
28 days and one year of causes other than congenital anomalies or
cancer with those of 7,740 children still alive at one year.
Children who were breastfed had 20% lower risk of dying between
28 days and one year than children who weren't breastfed. Longer
breastfeeding was associated with lower risk. The effect was the
same in both black and white children.
Breastfed infants in the U.S. have lower rates of morbidity, especially
from infectious disease, but there are no contemporary US studies
of the effect of breastfeeding on all-cause mortality in the first
year of life.
The study appears in the May issue of the scientific journal, Pediatrics,
and will be released at the 2004 Academic Pediatrics Societies meeting
in San Francisco on May 2.
Aimin Chen, MD, Ph.D. and Walter J Rogan, MD (both in the Epidemiology
Branch at NIEHS, one of the National Institutes of Health) are the
authors of the study. Dr. Rogan said, "Although we knew that
breastfeeding in the developing world was lifesaving, since it prevented
diarrhea and pneumonia, we had no nationally representative data
from the US on this very basic outcome. These data show that, even
in the US, there is a modest decrease in mortality for breastfed