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Journal: Maternal & child nutrition


The aim of this study was to quantify the excess cases of pediatric and maternal disease, death, and costs attributable to suboptimal breastfeeding rates in the United States. Using the current literature on the associations between breastfeeding and health outcomes for nine pediatric and five maternal diseases, we created Monte Carlo simulations modeling a hypothetical cohort of U.S. women followed from age 15 to age 70 years and their children from birth to age 20 years. We examined disease outcomes using (a) 2012 breastfeeding rates and (b) assuming that 90% of infants were breastfed according to medical recommendations. We measured annual excess cases, deaths, and associated costs, in 2014 dollars, using a 2% discount rate. Annual excess deaths attributable to suboptimal breastfeeding total 3,340 (95% confidence interval [1,886 to 4,785]), 78% of which are maternal due to myocardial infarction (n = 986), breast cancer (n = 838), and diabetes (n = 473). Excess pediatric deaths total 721, mostly due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (n = 492) and necrotizing enterocolitis (n = 190). Medical costs total $3.0 billion, 79% of which are maternal. Costs of premature death total $14.2 billion. The number of women needed to breastfeed as medically recommended to prevent an infant gastrointestinal infection is 0.8; acute otitis media, 3; hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infection, 95; maternal hypertension, 55; diabetes, 162; and myocardial infarction, 235. For every 597 women who optimally breastfeed, one maternal or child death is prevented. Policies to increase optimal breastfeeding could result in substantial public health gains. Breastfeeding has a larger impact on women’s health than previously appreciated.

Concepts: Infant, Disease, Death, Myocardial infarction, Breastfeeding, Pediatrics, Otitis media, Sudden infant death syndrome


Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition using ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) has revolutionised the treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM). However, 25% milk content in standard peanut-based RUTF (P-RUTF) makes it too expensive. The effectiveness of milk-free RUTF has not been reported hitherto. This non-blinded, parallel group, cluster randomised, controlled, equivalence trial that compares the effectiveness of a milk-free soy-maize-sorghum-based RUTF (SMS-RUTF) with P-RUTF in treatment of children with SAM, closes the gap. A statistician randomly assigned health centres (HC) either to the SMS-RUTF (n = 12; 824 enrolled) or P-RUTF (n = 12; 1103 enrolled) arms. All SAM children admitted at the participating HCs were enrolled. All the outcomes were measured at individual level. Recovery rate was the primary outcome. The recovery rates for SMS-RUTF and P-RUTF were 53.3% and 60.8% for the intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis and 77.9% and 81.8% for per protocol (PP) analyses, respectively. The corresponding adjusted risk difference (ARD) and 95% confidence interval, were -7.6% (-14.9, 0.6%) and -3.5% (-9,6., 2.7%) for ITT (P = 0.034) and PP analyses (P = 0.257), respectively. An unanticipated interaction (interaction P < 0.001 for ITT analyses and 0.0683 for PP analyses) between the study arm and age group was observed. The ARDs were -10.0 (-17.7 to -2.3)% for ITT (P = 0.013) and -4.7 (-10.0 to 0.7) for PP (P = 0.083) analyses for the <24 months age group and 2.1 (-10.3,14.6)% for ITT (P = 0.726) and -0.6 (-16.1, 14.5) for PP (P = 0.939) for the ≥24 months age group. In conclusion, the study did not confirm our hypothesis of equivalence between SMS-RUTF and P-RUTF in SAM management.

Concepts: Nutrition, Randomized controlled trial, Plumpy'nut, Therapeutic food


Within a Medecins Sans Frontieres’s nutrition programme in Kamrangirchar slum, Dhaka, Bangladesh this study was conducted to assess the acceptability of a peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) - Plumpy'nut(®) (PPN) among malnourished pregnant and lactating women (PLW). This was a cross-sectional survey using semi-structure questionnaire that included all PLW admitted in the nutrition programme, who were either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and who had received PPN for at least 4 weeks. A total of 248 women were interviewed of whom 99.6% were at risk of malnutrition. Overall, 212 (85%) perceived a therapeutic benefit. Despite this finding, 193 (78%) women found PPN unacceptable, of whom 12 (5%) completely rejected it after 4 weeks of intake. Reasons for unacceptability included undesirable taste (60%) and unwelcome smell (43%) - more than half of the latter was due to the peanut-based smell. Overall, 39% attributed side effects to PPN intake including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal distension and pain. Nearly 80% of women felt a need to improve PPN - 82% desiring a change in taste and 48% desiring a change in smell. Overall, only 146 (59%) understood the illustrated instructions on the package. Despite a perceived beneficial therapeutic effect, only two in 10 women found PPN acceptable for nutritional rehabilitation. We urge nutritional agencies and manufacturers to intensify their efforts towards developing more RUTF alternatives that have improved palatability and smell for adults and that have adequate therapeutic contents for treating malnourished PLW in Bangladesh.

Concepts: Therapeutic effect, Nutrition, Obesity, Food, Dehydration, Malnutrition, Plumpy'nut, F-100


Vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy is associated with disturbed skeletal homeostasis during infancy. Our aim was to investigate the influence of adherence to recommendations for vitamin D supplement intake of 10 μg per day (400 IU) during pregnancy (mother) and in the first months of life (child) on the occurrence of positional skull deformation of the child at the age of 2 to 4 months. In an observational case-control study, two hundred seventy-five 2- to 4-month-old cases with positional skull deformation were compared with 548 matched controls. A questionnaire was used to gather information on background characteristics and vitamin D intake (food, time spent outdoors and supplements). In a multiple variable logistic regression analysis, insufficient vitamin D supplement intake of women during the last trimester of pregnancy [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.86, 95% (CI) 1.27-2.70] and of children during early infancy (aOR 7.15, 95% CI 3.77-13.54) were independently associated with an increased risk of skull deformation during infancy. These associations were evident after adjustment for the associations with skull deformation that were present with younger maternal age and lower maternal education, shorter pregnancy duration, assisted vaginal delivery, male gender and milk formula consumption after birth. Our findings suggest that non-adherence to recommendations for vitamin D supplement use by pregnant women and infants are associated with a higher risk of positional skull deformation in infants at 2 to 4 months of age. Our study provides an early infant life example of the importance of adequate vitamin D intake during pregnancy and infancy.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Epidemiology, Fetus, Milk, Breastfeeding


Three important infant feeding support problems are addressed: (1) mothers who use formula milk can feel undersupported and judged; (2) mothers can feel underprepared for problems with breastfeeding; and (3) many mothers who might benefit from breastfeeding support do not access help. Theory of constraints (TOC) is used to examine these problems in relation to ante-natal education and post-natal support. TOC suggests that long-standing unresolved problems or ‘undesirable effects’ in any system (in this case a system to provide education and support) are caused by conflicts, or dilemmas, within the system, which might not be explicitly acknowledged. Potential solutions are missed by failure to question assumptions which, when interrogated, often turn out to be invalid. Three core dilemmas relating to the three problems are identified, articulated and explored using TOC methodology. These are whether to: (1) promote feeding choice or to promote breastfeeding; (2) present breastfeeding positively, as straightforward and rewarding, or focus on preparing mothers for problems; and (3) offer support proactively or ensure that mothers themselves initiate requests for support. Assumptions are identified and interrogated, leading to clarified priorities for action relating to each problem. These are (1) shift the focus from initial decision-making towards support for mothers throughout their feeding journeys, enabling and protecting decisions to breastfeed as one aspect of ongoing support; (2) to promote the concept of an early-weeks investment and adjustment period during which breastfeeding is established; and (3) to develop more proactive mother-centred models of support for all forms of infant feeding.

Concepts: Infant, Breastfeeding, Baby bottle, Problem solving, Breast milk, Infant formula, Baby food, Theory of Constraints


India accounts for approximately one third of the world’s total population of stunted preschoolers. Addressing global undernutrition, therefore, requires an understanding of the determinants of stunting across India’s diverse states and districts. We created a district-level aggregate data set from the recently released 2015-2016 National and Family Health Survey, which covered 601,509 households in 640 districts. We used mapping and descriptive analyses to understand spatial differences in distribution of stunting. We then used population-weighted regressions to identify stunting determinants and regression-based decompositions to explain differences between high- and low-stunting districts across India. Stunting prevalence is high (38.4%) and varies considerably across districts (range: 12.4% to 65.1%), with 239 of the 640 districts have stunting levels above 40% and 202 have prevalence of 30-40%. High-stunting districts are heavily clustered in the north and centre of the country. Differences in stunting prevalence between low and high burden districts were explained by differences in women’s low body mass index (19% of the difference), education (12%), children’s adequate diet (9%), assets (7%), open defecation (7%), age at marriage (7%), antenatal care (6%), and household size (5%). The decomposition models explained 71% of the observed difference in stunting prevalence. Our findings emphasize the variability in stunting across India, reinforce the multifactorial determinants of stunting, and highlight that interdistrict differences in stunting are strongly explained by a multitude of economic, health, hygiene, and demographic factors. A nationwide focus for stunting prevention is required, while addressing critical determinants district-by-district to reduce inequalities and prevalence of childhood stunting.


Written by the WHO/UNICEF NetCode author group, the comment focuses on the need to protect families from promotion of breast-milk substitutes and highlights new WHO Guidance on Ending Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children. The World Health Assembly welcomed this Guidance in 2016 and has called on all countries to adopt and implement the Guidance recommendations. NetCode, the Network for Global Monitoring and Support for Implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and Subsequent Relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions, is led by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. NetCode members include the International Baby Food Action Network, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, Helen Keller International, Save the Children, and the WHO Collaborating Center at Metropol University. The comment frames the issue as a human rights issue for women and children, as articulated by a statement from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Concepts: Infant, United Arab Emirates, Law, Human rights, World Health Organization, United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Rights


The majority of infant-feeding research is focused on identifying mother’s reasons for the cessation of breastfeeding. The experience of mothers who choose to use formula is largely overlooked in quantitative designs. This study aimed to describe the emotional and practical experiences of mothers who formula feed in any quantity, and examine whether these experiences would vary among different cohorts of formula-feeding mothers according to prenatal feeding intention and postnatal feeding method. A total of 890 mothers of infants up to 26 weeks of age, who were currently formula feeding in any quantity, were recruited through relevant international social media sites via advertisements providing a link to an online survey. Predictors of emotional experiences included guilt, stigma, satisfaction, and defense as a result of their infant feeding choices. Practical predictor variables included support received from health professionals, respect displayed by their everyday environment, and main sources of infant feeding information. Descriptive findings from the overall sample highlighted a worryingly high percentage of mother’s experienced negative emotions as a result of their decision to use formula. Multinomial logit models revealed that negative emotions such as guilt, dissatisfaction, and stigma were directly associated with feeding intention and method. The evidence suggests that the current approach to infant-feeding promotion and support may be paradoxically related to significant issues with emotional well-being. These findings support criticisms of how infant-feeding recommendations are framed by health care professionals and policy makers, and highlight a need to address formula feeding in a more balanced, woman-centered manner.

Concepts: Health care, Logistic regression, Pregnancy, Infant, Experience, Empathy, Multinomial logit, Predictor


We investigated the long-term implications of infantile thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency on motor function in preschoolers who had been fed during the first 2 years of life with a faulty milk substitute. In this retrospective cohort study, 39 children aged 5-6 years who had been exposed to a thiamine-deficient formula during infancy were compared with 30 age-matched healthy children with unremarkable infant nutritional history. The motor function of the participants was evaluated with The Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC) and the Zuk Assessment. Both evaluation tools revealed statistically significant differences between the exposed and unexposed groups for gross and fine motor development (p < .001, ball skills p = .01) and grapho-motor development (p = .004). The differences were especially noteworthy on M-ABC testing for balance control functioning (p < .001, OR 5.4; 95% CI 3.4-7.4) and fine motor skills (p < .001, OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.8-4.6). In the exposed group, both assessments concurred on the high rate of children exhibiting motor function difficulties in comparison to unexposed group (M-ABC: 56% vs. 10%, Zuk Assessment: 59% vs. 3%, p < .001). Thiamine deficiency in infancy has long-term implications on gross and fine motor function and balance skills in childhood, thiamine having a crucial role in normal motor development. The study emphasizes the importance of proper infant feeding and regulatory control of breast milk substitutes.

Concepts: Cohort study, Statistical significance, Milk, Vitamin, Motor skill, Thiamine, Beriberi, Fine motor skill


The majority of research examining the barriers to breastfeeding focuses on the physical challenges faced by mothers rather than the risks of encountering negative emotional and practical feeding experiences. We aimed to quantify the emotional and practical experiences of the overall sample of breastfeeding mothers and identify the differences in the emotional and practical experiences of exclusively breastfeeding mothers and combination feeding mothers, by feeding type and intention. Eight hundred forty-five mothers with infants up to 26 weeks of age and who had initiated breastfeeding were recruited through relevant social media via advertisements providing a link to an online survey. Predictors of emotional experiences included guilt, stigma, satisfaction with feeding method, and the need to defend themselves due to infant feeding choices. Practical predictors included perceived support from health professionals, main sources of infant feeding information, and respect from their everyday environment, workplace, and when breastfeeding in public. Current feeding type and prenatal feeding intention. In the overall sample, 15% of the mothers reported feeling guilty, 38% stigmatized, and 55% felt the need to defend their feeding choice. Binary logit models revealed that guilt and dissatisfaction were directly associated with feeding type, being higher when supplementing with formula. No associations with feeding intention were identified. This study demonstrates a link between current breastfeeding promotion strategies and the emotional state of breastfeeding mothers who supplement with formula to any extent. To minimize the negative impact on maternal well-being, it is important that future recommendations recognize the challenges that exclusive breastfeeding brings and provide a more balanced and realistic target for mothers.

Concepts: Logit, Pregnancy, Infant, Breastfeeding, Maternal bond, Empathy, Emotion, Feeling