Effect of exclusive breastfeeding on growth and morbidity of infants up to 6 months of age: a longitudinal study

Abhaykumar W. Ambilkar


Background: Breast feeding is the best infant food for optimal growth and development. Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months of life are widely recommended. However, very few infants receive timely initiation and exclusive brastfeeding. The present research is conducted to know the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the community and to study its impact on growth and morbidity during first 6 months of life.

Methods: Infants born in tertiary care hospital in Mumbai with defined inclusion criteria were included in the study. The study completed in two phases-1) Baseline Data collection: on socio-demographic and anthropometric details 2) Follow up: morbidity details and anthropometric measurements recorded during 3 follow up visits first at the end of neonatal period, second at completed 3 months and third at the completed 6 months.

Results: 402 infants were studied for this research. 256 (63.7%), 202 (50.2%) and 112 (27.9%) infants were reported to be exclusively breastfed at first, second and third follow up visits respectively. Infants with exclusive breastfeeding for a period of 6 months have better outcome in terms of weight than non-exclusively breastfed infants. Also Episodes of respiratory tract infection and diarrhoea were significantly lower (p<0.01) in exclusively breastfed infants for 6 months compared to non- exclusively breastfed infants.

Conclusions: Infants with exclusive breastfeeding for a period of 6 months have better outcome in terms of weight than non-exclusively breastfed infants. Exclusive breastfeeding prevents respiratory infection and diarrhoeal diseases.


Exclusive breast feeding, Growth, Infant morbidity

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