Causal Effects of Breastfeeding Promotion on Child Health: Understanding the Role of Nutrition


Us­ing data from the only large-scale ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al pro­mot­ing pro­longed ex­clu­sive breast­feed­ing, we show that the in­ter­ven­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly and per­sis­tent­ly in­creased weight-for-age. To ex­plain this re­sult, we pro­vide nov­el ev­i­dence of changes in in­fant feed­ing pat­terns. The es­ti­mat­ed in­crease in calo­ries that treat­ed in­fants con­sumed ex­plains a ma­jor share of the weight gain in ear­ly in­fan­cy. Our re­sults sug­gest that un­der­stand­ing the com­mon al­ter­na­tives to breast milk is key for de­sign­ing op­ti­mal in­fant feed­ing poli­cies.

Work­ing pa­per by Anne Ardi­la Brenøe and Jen­na Stearns.
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