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The Optimal Duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding

A Systematic Review Document produced by the Department of Child and Adolescent Health

The Optimal Duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding
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The longstanding debate over the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding has centered on the so-called "weanling's dilemma" in developing countries: the choice between the known protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding against infectious morbidity and the (theoretical) insufficiency of breast milk alone to satisfy the infant's energy and micronutrient requirements beyond 4 months of age. The primary objective of this review is to assess the effects on child health, growth, and development, and on maternal health, of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months vs exclusive breastfeeding for 3-4 months with mixed breastfeeding (introduction of complementary liquid or solid foods with continued breastfeeding) thereafter through 6 months.
World Health Organization; January 2002
52 pages; ISBN 9789240682320
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