Impact of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Nutrition Interventions on Breastfeeding Practices, Growth and Mortality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Systematic Review

Nutrients. 2020 Mar 10;12(3):722. doi: 10.3390/nu12030722.


Undernutrition is associated with 45% of total infant deaths, totalling 2.7 million globally per year. The vast majority of the burden is felt in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This review aims to assess the effectiveness of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) interventions. We searched multiple databases including Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE. Title/abstract screening and full-text screening and data extraction filtered 77 studies for inclusion. Breastfeeding education interventions (n = 38) showed 20% increase in rates of early initiation of breastfeeding, 102% increase in exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) at 3 months and 53% increase in EBF at 6 months and 24% decreases in diarrheal diseases. Complementary feeding education intervention (n=12) showed a 0.41 standard deviation (SD) increase in WAZ, and 0.25 SD in HAZ in food secure setting. Complementary food provision with or without education (n=17) showed a 0.14 SD increase in HAZ and 36% decrease in stunting. Supplementary food interventions (n=12) showed a significant 0.15 SD increase in WHZ. Subgroup analyses showed healthcare professional led interventions were largely more effective, especially on breastfeeding outcomes. We believe this is a comprehensive review of the existing literature on IYCF studies in LMICs. Though breastfeeding education is well supported in its effectiveness on breastfeeding practices, limited evidence exists for growth outcomes. Supplementation interventions seem to have better effects at improving growth. However, more research is required to reach more substantial conclusions.

Keywords: LMIC; breastfeeding; complementary feeding; growth; infants; malnutrition; mortality; supplementary feeding; young child.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Death / prevention & control*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male