Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Its Association With Childhood Malnutrition and Pregnancy Loss in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Joseph Molitoris , Lund University

In many populations, breastfeeding of one child frequently extends into the mother’s subsequent pregnancy. Best-practice recommendations are currently silent on the safety of the practice, however. This is because there has been little research examining the associations of breastfeeding during pregnancy (BDP) with the health of the breastfed child or the pregnancy, and none using nationally representative data. This paper uses DHS data from 55 countries and 115 surveys to examine the association between BDP and childhood malnutrition and the risk of spontaneous abortion. This study finds that BDP is associated with higher odds of stunting and wasting for breastfed children and higher risks of spontaneous abortion among pregnant women. For childhood malnutrition, there was a dose-response relationship indicating that longer durations of BDP were associated with increasingly greater odds of stunting and wasting. If these findings can be confirmed with prospective data, best-practice recommendations will need to be updated.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2