Online Program

Breastfeeding is associated with reduced risk of infections at age 6 years

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Ruowei Li, MD, PhD, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Deborah Dee, PhD, MPH; CDR, USPHS, NCCDPHP/Division of Reproductive Health/Applied Sciences Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Chuan-Ming Li, MD, PhD, Epidemiology and Statistics Program, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD
Howard J. Hoffman, MA, Epidemiology and Statistics Program, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD
Laurence Grummer-Strawn, PhD, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Background: Previous studies have shown that breastfeeding is associated with significant reductions in the risk of common infections among infants in developed countries; however, whether breastfeeding confers longer-term protection against infections is unknown. Methods: We linked data from the 2005-2006 Infant Feeding Practices Study-II and 2012 follow-up data collected when children were 6 years old. We used multivariate logistic regression, controlling for sociodemographics, to examine associations of any and exclusive breastfeeding duration and breastmilk intensity (categorized by tertiles of the percentage of milk feedings being breastmilk from age 0-6 months) with maternal reports of past-year infection (ear, sinus, throat, pneumonia/lung, urinary, cold/upper respiratory) among the 6-year-old children. Results: Among 1,292 respondents with complete data, the most common past-year infections at age 6 years were colds/upper respiratory (66%), ear (25%), and throat (24%) infections. No associations were found among breastfeeding and lung, urinary tract, or cold/respiratory infections. Prevalence of ear, sinus, and throat infections differed by breastfeeding duration, exclusivity, and breastmilk intensity (p<.02 for each). Children who were exclusively breastfed at least 6 months had lower odds of past-year sinus (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=0.12, 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 0.02-0.87), throat (AOR=0.20, 95%CI: 0.06-0.64), and ear (AOR=0.34, 95%CI: 0.13-0.89) infections versus those exclusively breastfed <4 months. Breastfeeding duration of ³6 months was associated with significantly reduced odds of the same infections. High breast milk intensity (>66.6% of child's milk feedings from 0-6 months were breastmilk) was associated with lower odds of sinus and throat infections. Conclusions: This is the first study of long-term associations of breastfeeding intensity, exclusivity, and duration, and infections in 6-year-old children in the U.S. The findings suggest that breastfeeding may protect against infection well beyond infancy. We will share some other important ways linked IFPS-II and follow-up study data can be used to examine longer-term, breastfeeding-related outcomes.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the Infant Feeding Practices Study-II follow up study and name at least two research questions that could be addressed with the follow-up study data. Define breastfeeding intensity as described in the presented study. Discuss the associations among breastfeeding practices (exclusivity, intensity, and duration) and past-year infections among six-year-old children.

Keyword(s): Breastfeeding, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My subject matter/research area of expertise and focus is breastfeeding, and I have worked and conducted research in this field for over 10 years. I have worked with the IFPS-II dataset and published a paper with those data, and am collaborating in writing three additional papers using IFPS-II or the IFPS-II follow-up study data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.