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Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine - Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Impact of Lack of Breast Feeding during Neonatal Age on the Development of Clinical Signs of Pneumonia and Hypoxemia in Young Infants with Diarrhea
Published: Monday, October 03, 2011
Author: Mohammod J. Chisti et al.

by Mohammod J. Chisti, Mohammed A. Salam, Jonathan Harvey Smith, Tahmeed Ahmed, Hasan Ashraf, Pradip K. Bardhan, Mark A. C. Pietroni


Hypoxemia is a grave sequel of pneumonia, and an important predictor of a fatal outcome. Pneumonia in the neonatal period is often associated with lack of breast feeding. However, there is no published report on the impact of the cessation of breast feeding in the neonatal period on the development of pneumonia and hypoxemia. The purpose of our study was to assess the impact of non-breast feeding or stopping breast feeding during the neonatal period (henceforth to be referred to as non-breast fed) on clinical features of pneumonia and hypoxemia in 0–6-month-old infants with diarrhea admitted to an urban hospital in Bangladesh.


We prospectively enrolled all infants (n?=?107) aged 0 to 6 months who were admitted to the Special Care Ward (SCW) of the Dhaka Hospital of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) with diarrhea and pneumonia from September 2007 through December 2007.We compared the clinical features of pneumonia and hypoxemia of breast fed infants (n?=?34) with those who were non-breast fed (n?=?73).


The median (inter-quartile range) duration of hypoxemia (hours) in non-breast-feds was longer than breast-fed infants [0.0 (0.0, 12.0) vs. 12.0 (0.0, 21.75); p?=?0.021]. After adjusting for potential confounders such as inability to drink, fever, head nodding, cyanosis, grunting respiration, and lower chest wall in drawing, the non-breast-fed infants with pneumonia along with diarrhea had a higher probability of cough (OR 9.09; CI 1.34–61.71; p?=?0.024), hypoxemia (OR 3.32; CI 1.23–8.93; p?=?0.017), and severe undernutrition (OR 3.42; CI 1.29–9.12; p?=?0.014).

Conclusions and Significance

Non-breast feeding or cessation of breast feeding during the neonatal period may substantially increase the incidence of severe malnutrition, incidence of cough, and both the incidence and duration of hypoxemia in young infants presenting with pneumonia and diarrhea. The findings emphasize the paramount importance of the continuation of breast feeding in the neonatal period and early infancy.