Breastfeeding and the risk of hospitalization for respiratory disease in infancy: A meta-analysis

Virginia R. Galton Bachrach, Eleanor Schwarz, Lela Rose Bachrach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

201 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To examine breastfeeding and the risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract disease in healthy full-term infants with access to modern medical care. Data Sources: MEDLINE, personal communication with researchers, the OVID databases, Dissertation Abstracts Online, and BIOSIS. Study Selection: The titles, abstracts, and text of studies from developed countries were explored for breastfeeding exposure measures and lower respiratory tract disease hospitalization rates. For summary statistics, we required 3 inclusion criteria: (1) a feeding contrast of a minimum of 2 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula supplementation) vs no breastfeeding and (2) study populations that excluded sick, low birth weight or premature infants and (3) reflected affluent regions; 27% of studies met these criteria. Data Extraction: We abstracted data from all relevant reports. Data Synthesis: Data from all primary material (33 studies) indicated a protective association between breastfeeding and the risk of respiratory disease hospitalization. Nine studies met all inclusion criteria, and 7 cohort studies were pooled. The feeding contrasts in these 7 studies were 4 or more months of exclusive breastfeeding vs no breastfeeding. The summary relative risk (95% confidence interval) was 0.28 (0.14-0.54), using a random-effects model. This effect remained stable and statistically significant after adjusting for the effects of smoking or socioeconomic status. Conclusion: Among generally healthy infants in developed nations, more than a tripling in severe respiratory tract illnesses resulting in hospitalizations was noted for infants who were not breastfed compared with those who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Volume157
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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