Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding

KramerMS, Kakuma R.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – 2007. Update

Plain Language Summary

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (versus three to four months) reduces gastrointestinal infection, does not impair growth, and helps the mother lose weight.

The results of two controlled trials and 18 other studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding (no solids or liquids besides human milk, other than vitamins and medications) for six months has several advantages over exclusive breastfeeding for three to four months followed by mixed breastfeeding. These advantages include a lower risk of gastrointestinal infection, more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, and delayed return of menstrual periods. No reduced risks of other infections or of allergic diseases have been demonstrated. No adverse effects on growth have been documented with exclusive breastfeeding for six months, but a reduced level of iron has been observed in developing-country settings.

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