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Effect of feeding pattern on infant illness in Chinese cities

  • Li Cai (a1), Pan Yu (a1), Yumei Zhang (a1), Xiaoguang Yang (a2), Wenjun Li (a3) and Peiyu Wang (a1)...



To investigate the effect of different feeding patterns on the occurrence of diseases among infants.


Data on socio-economic status, feeding patterns before 6 months (exclusive breast-feeding (EBF); mixed feeding with breast milk and formula (MBF); exclusive formula-feeding (EFF)) and illness of infants were collected via face-to-face interviews. The proportions of infants who had ever been ill or hospitalized and their potential influence factors were investigated.


Eight large cities in China.


Infants (n 1654) aged 0–11·9 months were recruited from hospitals.


For infants aged 0–2·9 months, the percentage who had been ill was 19·2 %, 24·1 % and 26·3 % among the EBF, MBF and EFF groups, respectively. For those aged 3–5·9 and 6–11·9 months, the corresponding percentages were 41·6 %, 45·6 % and 51·0 %, and 67·0 %, 73·4 % and 67·7 %. Respiratory disease was the most common reported illness and cause of hospitalization. The risks of having (total) illness, diarrhoea and respiratory disease increased significantly with age, but not allergic disease. Compared with EBF, MBF and EFF infants had significantly higher risks of having illnesses except for allergic disease, and feeding patterns were not related to hospitalization. Low birth weight, middle family income and low level of mother’s education also increased the risk of illness.


A protective effect of EBF against total illness in urban Chinese infants was found. An increasing trend with age was observed among the percentages of infants who had been ill or had diarrhoea or respiratory disease, but not allergic disease.

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