Longitudinal studies of the feeding practices and morbidity from infectious diseases of 153 Peruvian newborns from an underprivileged, periurban community were completed during their first year of life. Feeding practices were assessed by monthly questionnaires, and illnesses were identified by thrice-weekly, community-based surveillance. All infants were initially breast-fed, but only 12% were exclusively breast-fed at 1 month of age. At 12 months of age, 86% of children still received some breast milk. Incidence and prevalence rates of diarrhea in infants younger than 6 months of age were less among those who were exclusively breast-fed compared with those who received other liquids or artificial milks in addition to breast milk. The diarrheal prevalence rates doubled with the addition of these other fluids (15.2% v 7.1% of days ill, P < .001). Infants for whom breast-feeding was discontinued during the first 6 months had 27.6% diarrheal prevalence. During the second 6 months of life, discontinuation of breast-feeding was also associated with an increased risk of diarrheal incidence and prevalence. Upper and lower respiratory tract infections occurred with lesser prevalence among exclusively breast-fed younger infants. The prevalences of skin infections by category of feeding practice were not as consistent, but exclusively breast-fed infants tended to have fewer skin infections during the initial months of life and older infants who continued to breast-feed had fewer infections than those who did not. None of the results could be explained by differences in the socioeconomic status of the infants' families.
- Received December 9, 1987.
- Accepted February 4, 1988.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics