Indexed on: 30 Aug '13Published on: 30 Aug '13Published in: Annals of nutrition & metabolism
Low-birth-weight infants, in particular those with birth weights <1,500 g, benefit from fortified breast milk. Low protein intake is critical, because it is limiting growth. Long-term health outcomes in small-for-gestational-age infants from developing countries in relation to their early nutrition still need to be evaluated in controlled trials. Term infants both in developing and developed countries also benefit from exclusive breastfeeding: an analysis of a large dataset of surveys from 20 developing countries (168,000 infants and small children from the Demographic Health Survey, United States Agency for International Development) indicates that exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months is associated with significantly higher weight, length, and lower probability of stunting, wasting, and infections. Nine out of 10 infants still receive breast milk between 6 and 12 months and probability of infections tends to be lower if breastfeeding is continued during that age range. Between 12 and 24 months, when stunting and wasting rates are already high, 7 out of 10 infants still receive breast milk. No associations of feeding patterns with disease outcome can be found. Effectiveness trials of complementary feeding strategies in food-insecure countries are urgently needed. Follow-up until 10 years in a developed country now indicates that an infant population at risk for allergic diseases benefits both from breastfeeding and the use of hypoallergenic formula during the first 4 months of life, when compared to cow's milk-based formula: both the cumulative incidences of atopic disease and all allergic diseases are significantly lower.