Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months
of an infant’s life reduces the risk of infections. Based on that
information, a population-based study of infants in the Netherlands
examined the effects of breastfeeding, both exclusive and partial,
during the first four months of life.
The study, “Prolonged and Exclusive Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Infectious Diseases in Infancy,” published in the July print issue of Pediatrics (published
online June 21), found that infants who were breastfed exclusively until
4 months of age, and partially thereafter, had a lower risk of
respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections in the first six
months of life. However, exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age
still yields the greatest level of protection from infectious diseases. This study confirms the recommendations of the American Academy of
Pediatrics and the World Health Organization for exclusive breastfeeding
until 6 months of age.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.