Breast-feeding and the risk of life-threatening rotavirus diarrhea: Prevention or postponement?

J. Clemens, M. Rao, F. Ahmed, R. Ward, S. Huda, J. Chakraborty, M. Yunus, M. R. Khan, M. Ali, B. Kay, F. Van Loon, D. Sack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Purpose. To assess the relationship between breast-feeding and the risk of life-threatening rotavirus diarrhea among Bangladeshi infants and children younger than 24 months of age. Design. Case-control study. Setting. A rural Bangladesh community. Participants. One hundred two cases with clinically severe rotavirus diarrhea detected in a treatment center-based surveillance system during 1985 and 1986, and 2587 controls selected in three surveys of the same community during the same calendar interval. Outcomes. Cases and controls were compared for the frequency of antecedent breast-feeding patterns. Results. Compared with other feeding modes, exclusive breast- feeding of infants was associated with significant protection against severe rotavirus diarrhea (relative risk (RR) = 0.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.03, 0.34). However, during the second year of life, the risk of this outcome was higher in breast-fed than in non-breast-fed children (RR = 2.85; 95% CI = 0.37, 21.71), and no overall protection was associated with breast- feeding during the first 2 years of life (RR = 2.61; 95% CI = 0.62, 11.02). Conclusions. Although exclusive breast-feeding appeared to protect infants against severe rotavirus diarrhea, breast-feeding per se conferred no overall protection during the first 2 years of life, suggesting that breast-feeding temporarily postponed rather than prevented this outcome. While not detracting from efforts to promote breast-feeding to alleviate the burden of diarrhea due to nonrotaviral enteropathogens, our findings cast doubt on whether such efforts will impact on the problem of severe rotavirus diarrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)680-685
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • breast-feeding
  • diarrhea
  • rotavirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Breast-feeding and the risk of life-threatening rotavirus diarrhea: Prevention or postponement?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this