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Acta Paediatr. 2005 Aug;94(8):1109-15.

Postnatal peer counselling on exclusive breastfeeding of low-birthweight infants: a randomized, controlled trial.

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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



Exclusive breastfeeding increases survival and optimizes growth of low-birthweight (LBW) infants. If supported, mothers can overcome the unique difficulties associated with breastfeeding from birth to 6 mo. We tested the efficacy of postnatal peer counselling among first-time mothers that aimed to increase exclusive breastfeeding of term LBW infants.


In a Manila hospital, 204 mothers were randomized into three groups. Two intervention groups receiving home-based counselling visits, one by counsellors trained in breastfeeding counselling (n=68), the other by counsellors trained in general childcare (n=67), were compared with a control group of mothers (n=69) who did not receive counselling.


Eighty-eight per cent of the participating pairs completed the trial. At 6 mo, 44% of the breastfeeding counselled mothers, 7% childcare-counselled mothers and none of the mothers in the control group were exclusively breastfeeding. More mothers in the breastfeeding counselled group than in the other groups were still breastfeeding at 6 mo. Twenty-four infants who were exclusively breastfed for 6 mo did not have any diarrhoea. All groups had improved mean weight-for-age Z-scores at 6 mo.


This study has provided fundamental evidence of successful intervention to achieve 6 mo of exclusive breastfeeding among term LBW infants. By improving health outcomes, enhanced breastfeeding offers a distinct possibility of disrupting the intergenerational cycle of undernourished women giving birth to LBW infants.

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