Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Breastfed Infants Less Likely to Die

WebMD Health News

May 3, 2004 -- Breastfed infants are less likely to die in the first year of life, new research shows.

"If more U.S. mothers can be persuaded to breastfeed ... then the United States might improve its poor ranking among industrialized countries for [infant] deaths," writes lead researcher Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Services in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Her study -- a nationwide survey of 18,593 women -- appears in the current issue of Pediatrics.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers deaths from preventable causes like infections, trauma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Further investigation of this protective effect is important, also, to offset concerns about the infant's possible exposure to HIV or chemical carcinogens through breast milk, writes Chen.

Chen took her data from surveys sent to 9,953 women whose babies were born alive, 3,309 whose babies were stillborn or died shortly after premature birth, and 5,332 whose babies died within their first year.

The surveys asked about the mother's prenatal care, the infant's health, whether the infant was breastfed, and how long breastfeeding lasted. Researchers also looked at the infants' death certificates. None of the deaths was due to a congenital defect or cancer.

They found that:

  • Breastfed babies were nearly 20% less likely to die in infancy.
  • The longer babies were breastfed, the lower the risk of infant death.

  • Both black and white infants had the same protection from breastfeeding.

"Breastfed children have a decreased risk of [death in infancy] in the United States," writes Chen.

Breastfeeding may protect infants from infections, but how it affects SIDS is not yet understood, she writes.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow