Characteristics of diarrheal illnesses in non-breast fed infants attending a large urban diarrheal disease hospital in Bangladesh

Author(s): Dey SK, Chisti MJ, Das SK, Shaha CK, Ferdous F, et al.


Background: Lack of breast feeding is associated with higher morbidity and case-fatality from both bacterial and viral etiologic diarrheas. However, there is very limited data on the characteristics of non-breastfed infants attending hospital with diarrheal illnesses caused by common bacterial and viral pathogens. Our objective was to assess the impact of lack of breast feeding on diarrheal illnesses in infants living in urban Bangladesh.

Methods: We extracted data of infants (0-11 months) for analyses from the data archive of Diarrheal Disease Surveillance System (DDSS) of the Dhaka Hospital of icddr,b for the period 2008-2011.

Results: The prevalence of breastfeeding in infants attending the hospital with diarrhea reduced from 31% in 2008 to 17% in 2011, with corresponding increase in the prevalence of non-breastfed (chi square for trend <0.001). Among breastfed infants, the incidence of rotavirus infections was higher (43%) among the 0-5 months age group than infants aged 9-11 months (18%). On the other hand, among non-breastfed infants, the incidence of rotavirus infections was much higher (82%) among 9-11 months old infants compared to those in 0-5 months age group (57%) (chi square for trend <0.001). Very similar trends were also observed in the incidence of cholera and ETEC diarrheas among different age groups of breastfed and non-breastfed infants (chi square for trend 0.020 and 0.001 respectively). However, for shigellosis, the statistical difference remained unchanged among both the groups (chi square for trend 0.240).

Conclusion and significance: We observed protective role of breastfeeding in infantile diarrhea caused by the major viral and common bacterial agents. These findings underscore the importance of promotion and expansion of breastfeeding campaigns in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

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