To study the morbidity pattern of non-breastfed infants and compare it with breastfed infants.
The study was conducted at Emergency/Medical ward of the Children’s Hospital & the institute of Child Health, Lahore over a period of two weeks in April 2001. A consecutive sample of 100 infants up to the age of six months admitted in the hospital for the management of aliment was selected. The infants having sucking problems were not selected. The information was recorded on a pre-tested questionnaire by personal interview.
Weight, age, sex, parents’ education, place and mode of delivery and clinical diagnosis of morbidity leading to hospital admission were the characteristics used to assess the morbidity.
One hundred cases were studied. Low education level of parents especially mothers, and tendency towards home deliveries (41%) were observed. The male infants were brought to the hospital more frequently (65%). Prelecteal feeds were given to 87% of infants and mother’s milk was offered only to 13% of infants at the time of birth. Breastfeeding was 43% at 3 months and 20% at 6 months. The prevalence of exclusive breast-feeding was very low as compared to partial and mixed feeding leading to bottle-feeding. Malnutrition due to lack of optimum breastfeeding and recurrent attacks of diarrhea was observed in 75% of infants. In the present study, non-breastfed infants were four times more admitted in the hospital for the management of ailment as compared to the breastfed infants. Acute diarrhea was 6% in breastfed and 21% in non-breastfed infants, chest infection 6% in breastfed and 9% in non-breastfed infants. SOM with complication 1% in breastfed and 3% in non-breastfed infants, persistent diarrhea 1% in breast fed and 30% in non-breastfed infants, septicemia 1% in breastfed and 13% in non-breastfed infants.
These results show that the resistance to infectious diseases is more in breastfed infants because human milk contains abundance of factors that are active against pathogenic microorganisms, and with non-exclusive breast-feeding this protective effect is diluted as far as morbidity is concerned. Infant morbidity in Pakistan can be reduced four times by targeting exclusive breast-feeding.