Breastfeeding patterns and exposure to suboptimal breastfeeding among children in developing countries: review and analysis of nationally representative surveys

Breastfeeding patterns and exposure to suboptimal breastfeeding among children in developing countries: review and analysis of nationally representative surveys

First global estimates of breastfeeding rates: a new tool to improve child health monitoring

This article, published in BMC Medicine, contains what are believed to be the first global estimates of breastfeeding rates for infants aged up to six months, drawn from the analysis of survey data from 94 developing countries. Breastfeeding indicators were calculated for 135 countries by UN region. Missing observations were imputed for incomplete or non-comprehensive surveys, using estimated parameters. Findings showed that there was a 39 per cent prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding of infants aged six months or younger in developing countries, and a 5.6 per cent prevalence of no breastfeeding.

The authors highlight the striking gap between breastfeeding practice and recommendations in developing countries. They emphasise that more attention should be given to increasing breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, and to monitoring trends, given the impact of suboptimal (less than recommended) breastfeeding on infant and child health. The authors also note the regularity of breastfeeding patterns and conclude that the survey data is reliable and comprehensive. They suggest that their method for the analysis of breastfeeding rates provides a powerful tool for summarising trends and calculating indicators, which should support more effective child health monitoring. [adapted from author]

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.