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Ann Intern Med. 2008 Oct 21;149(8):565-82.

Interventions in primary care to promote breastfeeding: an evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

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Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Evidence suggests that breastfeeding decreases the risk for many diseases in mothers and infants. It is therefore important to evaluate the effectiveness of breastfeeding interventions.


To systematically review evidence for the effectiveness of primary care-initiated interventions to promote breastfeeding with respect to breastfeeding and child and maternal health outcomes.


Electronic searches of MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and CINAHL from September 2001 to February 2008 and references of selected articles, restricted to English-language publications.


Randomized, controlled trials of primary care-initiated interventions to promote breastfeeding, mainly in developed countries.


Characteristics of interventions and comparators, study setting, study design, population characteristics, the proportion of infants continuing breastfeeding by different durations, and infant or maternal health outcomes were recorded.


Thirty-eight randomized, controlled trials (36 in developed countries) met eligibility criteria. In random-effects meta-analyses, breastfeeding promotion interventions in developed countries resulted in significantly increased rates of short- (1 to 3 months) and long-term (6 to 8 months) exclusive breastfeeding (rate ratios, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.11 to 1.48] and 1.44 [CI, 1.13 to 1.84], respectively). In subgroup analyses, combining pre- and postnatal breastfeeding interventions had a larger effect on increasing breastfeeding durations than either pre- or postnatal interventions alone. Furthermore, breastfeeding interventions with a component of lay support (such as peer support or peer counseling) were more effective than usual care in increasing the short-term breastfeeding rate.


Meta-analyses were limited by clinical and methodological heterogeneity. Reliable estimates for the isolated effects of each component of multicomponent interventions could not be obtained.


Evidence suggests that breastfeeding interventions are more effective than usual care in increasing short- and long-term breastfeeding rates. Combined pre- and postnatal interventions and inclusion of lay support in a multicomponent intervention may be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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