Partial breastfeeding protects Bedouin infants from infection and morbidity: Prospective cohort study

Natalya Bilenko, Rohini Ghosh, Amalia Levy, Richard J. Deckelbaum, Ora Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for health in infants have been widely described. The goal of this study was to determine whether partial breastfeeding has protective effects against enteric infection and associated morbidity in population where early addition of supplementation is common. In this prospective study 238 Bedouin infants were followed from birth to age 18 months. Exclusive breastfeeding was protective against infection and morbidity at ages 0 to 3 months. In the age range of 4 to 6 months, partial versus non breastfeeding was associated with lower rates of infection with Cryptosporidium spp (Odds Ratio OR 0.34, 95% confidence interval CI 0.18; 0.65), and Campylobacter spp (OR 0.58, CI 0.35; 0.98), lower rates of ear infections (OR 0.47, CI 0.24; 0.90) and of asthma (OR 0.33, CI 0.13; 0.81). In older children (10-12 month age range) partial breastfeeding as compared to none, protected against infections with Cryptosporidium spp (OR 0.57, CI 0.36; 0.91) and Giardia lamblia (OR 0.92, CI 0.85; 0.99). In Bedouins, and possibly in other populations, even partial breastfeeding, especially at ages 4 to 6 months offers protection against infection. Thus, encouraging mothers to continue to at least partially breastfeed past age 3 months may help reduce infections and morbidity in infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-249
Number of pages7
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2008


  • Bedouin
  • Breastfeeding
  • Enteric pathogens
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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