Effect of exclusive breastfeeding on selected adverse health and nutritional outcomes: a nationally representative study.
BACKGROUND: Despite growing evidence in support of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) among infants in the first 6 months of birth, the debate over the optimal duration of EBF continues. This study examines the effect of termination of EBF during the first 2, 4 and 6 months of birth on a set of adverse health and nutritional outcomes of infants. METHODS: Three waves of Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey data were analysed using multivariate regression. The adverse health outcomes were: an episode of diarrhea, fever or acute respiratory infection (ARI) during the 2 weeks prior to the survey. Nutritional outcomes were assessed by stunting (height-for-age), wasting (weight-for-height) and underweight (weight-for-age). Population attributable fraction was calculated to estimate percentages of these six outcomes that could have been prevented by supplying EBF. RESULTS: Fifty-six percent of infants were exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months. Lack of EBF increased the odds of diarrhea, fever and ARI. Among the babies aged 6 months or less 27.37% of diarrhea, 13.24% of fever and 8.94% of ARI could have been prevented if EBF was not discontinued. If EBF was terminated during 0-2 months, 2-4 months the odds of becoming underweight were 2.16 and 2.01 times higher, respectively, than babies for whom EBF was not terminated. CONCLUSION: Children who are not offered EBF up to 6 months of their birth may suffer from a range of infectious diseases and under-nutrition. Health promotion and other public health interventions should be enhanced to encourage EBF at least up to six-month of birth. TRAIL REGISTRATION: Data of this study were collected following the guidelines of ICF International and Bangladesh Medical Research Council. The registration number of data collection is 132,989.0.000 and the data-request was registered on September 11, 2016.