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Soc Biol. 2000 Spring-Summer;47(1-2):1-17.

The effects of breastfeeding and birth spacing on infant and early childhood mortality in Ethiopia.

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Department of Sociology and Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Research conducted in developing countries clearly demonstrates the positive effects of breastfeeding and widely spaced births on infant survival. The evidence is less clear as to whether these beneficial effects extend into early childhood, and under what conditions. In this paper we examine the effects of breastfeeding and birth spacing on neonatal, post-neonatal, and early childhood mortality in Ethiopia using data from the 1990 National Family and Fertility Survey. Our results provide clear evidence that the increased mortality risks associated with closely-spaced births continue beyond the first year of life into early childhood. Competition between siblings for food and maternal attention is the most probable explanation for this finding. We also find that breastfeeding beyond the second year of life is associated with higher mortality. Given that delayed weaning in Ethiopia is a common response to food shortages, we interpret this finding as further evidence of the negative consequences of resource deprivation for child survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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