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Breastfeeding and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome: a meta-analysis

Pediatrics. 2011 Jul;128(1):103-10. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Hauck FRThompson JMTanabe KOMoon RYVennemann MM.

Source: Department of Family Medicine,UniversityofVirginiaSchoolofMedicine,PO Box 800729,Charlottesville,VA22908,USA. frh8e@virginia.edu

CONTEXT:

Benefits of breastfeeding include lower risk of postneonatal mortality. However, it is unclear whether breastfeeding specifically lowers sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk, because study results have been conflicting.

OBJECTIVE:

To perform a meta-analysis to measure the association between breastfeeding and SIDS.

METHODS:

We identified 288 studies with data on breastfeeding and SIDS through a Medline search (1966-2009), review articles, and meta-analyses. Twenty-four original case-control studies were identified that provided data on the relationship between breastfeeding and SIDS risk. Two teams of 2 reviewers evaluated study quality according to preset criteria; 6 studies were excluded, which resulted in 18 studies for analysis. Univariable and multivariable odds ratios were extracted. A summary odds ratio (SOR) was calculated for the odds ratios by using the fixed-effect and random-effect inverse-variance methods of meta-analysis. The Breslow-Day test for heterogeneity was performed.

RESULTS:

For infants who received any amount of breast milk for any duration, the univariable SOR was 0.40 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.35-0.44), and the multivariable SOR was 0.55 (95% CI: 0.44-0.69). For any breastfeeding at 2 months of age or older, the univariable SOR was 0.38 (95% CI: 0.27-0.54). The univariable SOR for exclusive breastfeeding of any duration was 0.27 (95% CI: 0.24-0.31).

CONCLUSIONS:

Breastfeeding is protective against SIDS, and this effect is stronger when breastfeeding is exclusive. The recommendation to breastfeed infants should be included with other SIDS risk-reduction messages to both reduce the risk of SIDS and promote breastfeeding for its many other infant and maternal health benefits.

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