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Factors associated with breast milk intake

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Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first 6 months of life; thereafter, continued breastfeeding along with nutritious complementary foods is recommended. Continued breastfeeding contributes a substantial proportion of nutrient needs and promotes healthy growth and development, but the quantity of breast milk consumed may be highly variable and little is known about the factors associated with breast milk intake after 6 months of age. The present study was conducted to assess factors associated with breast milk intake of Malawian infants at 9-10 months of age. Breast milk intake was measured using the dose-to-mother deuterium oxide dilution method in a subsample of 358 Malawian infants who were participating in a randomized controlled trial of lipid-based nutrient supplements. Regression analysis was used to assess associations between breast milk intake and several maternal and infant variables. Mean (standard deviation) breast milk intake was 752 (244) g day(-1) . In multiple regression, breast milk intake was positively associated with infant weight (+62 g per kg body weight, P < 0.01) and maternal height (P < 0.01) and negatively associated with maternal education and age (P < 0.01). There was a non-significant (P = 0.063) inverse association between energy from non-breast milk sources and breast milk intake. In this rural Malawian population, infant weight is the main predictor of breast milk intake, even after the first 6 months of life.

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