This article is part of the supplement: The Lives Saved Tool in 2013: new capabilities and applications
Breastfeeding for reducing the risk of pneumonia morbidity and mortality in children under two: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis
- Equal contributors
1 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
2 Department of Family Medicine, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
3 Centre of Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
4 Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
BMC Public Health 2013, 13(Suppl 3):S18 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S18Published: 17 September 2013
Suboptimal breastfeeding practices among infants and young children <24 months of age are associated with elevated risk of pneumonia morbidity and mortality. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the protective effects of breastfeeding exposure against pneumonia incidence, prevalence, hospitalizations and mortality.
We conducted a systematic literature review of studies assessing the risk of selected pneumonia morbidity and mortality outcomes by varying levels of breastfeeding exposure among infants and young children <24 months of age. We used random effects meta-analyses to generate pooled effect estimates by outcome, age and exposure level.
Suboptimal breastfeeding elevated the risk of pneumonia morbidity and mortality outcomes across age groups. In particular, pneumonia mortality was higher among not breastfed compared to exclusively breastfed infants 0-5 months of age (RR: 14.97; 95% CI: 0.67-332.74) and among not breastfed compared to breastfed infants and young children 6-23 months of age (RR: 1.92; 95% CI: 0.79-4.68).
Our results highlight the importance of breastfeeding during the first 23 months of life as a key intervention for reducing pneumonia morbidity and mortality.