MICHAEL S. KRAMER, MD, RITSUKO KAKUMA, MSc
World Health Organization, 2002
Background: The longstanding debate over the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding has centered on the so-called “weanling’s dilemma” in developing countries: the choice between the known protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding against infectious morbidity and the (theoretical) insufficiency of breast milk alone to satisfy the infant’s energy and micronutrient requirements beyond 4 months of age. The debate over whether to recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 4–6 months vs “about 6 months” has recently become more intense.
Objectives: The primary objective of this review was to assess the effects on child health, growth, and development, and on maternal health, of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months vs exclusive breastfeeding for 3–4 months with mixed breastfeeding (introduction of complementary liquid or solid foods with continued breastfeeding) thereafter through 6 months.
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