Send to

Choose Destination
Acta Paediatr. 2015 Dec;104(467):3-13. doi: 10.1111/apa.13147.

Optimal breastfeeding practices and infant and child mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

Newborn Health Knowledge Centre, ICMR Center for Advanced Research in Newborn Health, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies, New Delhi, India.
Centre for Intervention Science in Maternal and Child Health, Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.



To synthesise the evidence for effects of optimal breastfeeding on all-cause and infection-related mortality in infants and children aged 0-23 months.


We conducted a systematic review to compare the effect of predominant, partial or nonbreastfeeding versus exclusive breastfeeding on mortality rates in the first six months of life and effect of no versus any breastfeeding on mortality rates between 6 and 23 months of age. A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Cochrane CENTRAL and CABI.


The risk of all-cause mortality was higher in predominantly (RR 1.5), partially (RR 4.8) and nonbreastfed (RR14.4) infants compared to exclusively breastfed infants 0-5 months of age. Children 6-11 and 12-23 months of age who were not breastfed had 1.8- and 2.0-fold higher risk of mortality, respectively, when compared to those who were breastfed. Risk of infection-related mortality in 0-5 months was higher in predominantly (RR 1.7), partially (RR 4.56) and nonbreastfed (RR 8.66) infants compared to exclusive breastfed infants. The risk was twofold higher in nonbreastfed children when compared to breastfed children aged 6-23 months.


The findings underscore the importance of optimal breastfeeding practices during infancy and early childhood.


breastfeeding; child; infant; meta-analysis; mortality; newborn

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center