Journal of Perinatology (2010) 30, 155–162; doi:10.1038/jp.2009.107; published online 16 July 2009

The risks and benefits of infant feeding practices for women and their children

A M Stuebe1 and E B Schwarz2

  1. 1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Epidemiology, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Correspondence: Dr AM Stuebe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina, School of Medicine, 3010 Old Clinic Building, CB# 7516, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7516, USA. E-mail:

Received 5 April 2009; Revised 14 June 2009; Accepted 15 June 2009; Published online 16 July 2009.



Infant feeding decisions affect maternal and child health outcomes, worldwide. Even in settings with clean water and good sanitation, infants who are not breast-fed face an increased risk of infectious, as well as non-infectious morbidity and mortality. The decision not to breast-feed can also adversely affect mothers' health by increasing the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease. Clinicians who counsel mothers about the health impact of infant feeding and provide evidence-based care to maximize successful breast-feeding, can improve the short and long-term health of both mothers and infants.


breast feeding; epidemiology; health promotion; quality of health care



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