In this study, mothers delivering a baby in April 2005 were recruited throughout Bavaria, Germany, for a prospective birth cohort study. These mothers reported breastfeeding data, health and growth data of 1,901 infants assessed by a physician in questionnaires on day 2-6, and in months 2, 4, 6 and 9. Subjects were healthy term infants with a birth weight >= 2500 g. The researchers compared 475 infants breastfed exclusively for >= 6 months (group A), 870 infants breastfed fully/exclusively >= 4 months, but not exclusively >= 6 months (group B) and 619 infants not breastfed/breastfed < 4 months (group C).
In multivariate analysis >= 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding reduced significantly the risk for >= 1 episode of gastrointestinal infection(s) during months 1-9 compared to no/< 4 months breastfeeding (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.44-0.82). The application of the World Health Organization (WHO) - child growth standards showed lower weight-for-length z-scores in first days of life in group C versus groups A and B, whereas in months 6/7 group C showed the highest scores.
Rebhan B, Kohlhuber M, Schwegler U, Fromme H, Abou-Dakn, Koletzko BV. Breastfeeding duration and exclusivity associated with infants’ health and growth: data from a prospective cohort study in Bavaria, Germany. Acta Paediatr2009;98:974-80