Effect of breastfeeding promotion interventions on child growth: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Acta Paediatr. 2015 Dec;104(467):20-9. doi: 10.1111/apa.13160.


Aim: To update a previous systematic review and meta-analyses about the effect of breastfeeding promotion interventions on child growth.

Methods: Studies evaluating the effect of any type of breastfeeding promotion intervention on child weight, length (or height) and weight/height (or BMI) were screened. Papers published between 2006 and 2014 were checked using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Lilacs and SciELO.

Results: Sixteen studies were added to 19 other studies identified in the previous review, resulting in 35 studies. Meta-analyses of studies reporting on mean weight, length, weight/length or BMI showed that the interventions had no impact on weight or length/height z scores [pooled effect: 0.03 (95% confidence interval: -0.06;0.12) and 0.03 (95% confidence interval: -0.02;0.08), respectively] and had a modest, but significant, reduction in body mass index/weight-for-height z scores [z score mean difference: -0.06 (95% confidence interval: -0.12;0.00)], which was limited to studies from low- and high-incomes settings. For all three outcomes, there was important heterogeneity among studies, which should be taken into account when interpreting the results.

Conclusion: Breastfeeding promotion interventions were not associated with significant changes in weight or length, but led to a modest, albeit significant, reduction in body mass index/weight-for-height z scores.

Keywords: Anthropometry; Breastfeeding promotion; Child growth.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Asia
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Breast Feeding* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Oceania
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic