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Breastfeeding Linked to Reduced Risk for Postperinatal Infant Death

Significant reductions seen in all seven U.S. geographic regions, with largest reductions in Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in postperinatal infant death during the first year of life, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Julie L. Ware, M.D., M.P.H., from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study linking U.S. national birth and postperinatal infant death data for nearly 10 million infants born during 2016 to 2018 and followed infant outcomes for one year after birth. Data were included for 9,711,567 live births and 20,632 postperinatal infant deaths from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

The researchers found that the overall adjusted odds ratio was 0.67 for breastfeeding initiation with postperinatal infant mortality for days 7 to 364. Significant reductions in postperinatal infant deaths associated with breastfeeding initiation were seen in all seven U.S. geographic regions: The largest reductions were seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions (adjusted odds ratios, 0.56 and 0.56, respectively), while the smallest reduction was seen for the Southeast (adjusted odds ratio, 0.79). Thirty-five individual states had significant reductions in total postperinatal infant deaths.

“Although breastfeeding is widely recommended, nevertheless, some may still consider it to be of minor importance,” coauthor Ardythe Morrow, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said in a statement. “We hope that our findings will change the narrative. Human milk is replete with protective molecules, and breastfeeding offers significant protection.”

One author disclosed ties to Friesland Campina, a formula ingredients company, and a minor stake in Glycosyn, which produces technology for manufacturing oligosaccharides bioidentical to those in human milk.

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