Project: Research project


While breastfeeding is clearly associated with lower rates of infant
morbidity particularly among disadvantaged populations, no carefully
controlled study has demonstrated that infant morbidity can be reduced
through the promotion of breastfeeding. The Navajo Infant Feeding and
Morbidity Project is designed to demonstrate that increases in rates of
exclusive breastfeeding are associated with declines in morbidity due to
respiratory and gastrointestinal illness among Navajo infants. A rigorous
test of this relationship will be possible because of unique features of
the research site, including a completed breastfeeding promotion project
which has substantially increased breastfeeding rates, high infant
morbidity combined with lack of financial barriers to health care, and
access to the medical records for all infants born in the study area. Aims
of the project are to: 1) assess the effect of the breastfeeding promotion
on breastfeeding rates, 2) assess rates of common childhood illnesses
prior to and after promoting breast feeding, 3) relate infant morbidity to
changing feeding patterns, and 4) document subsequent changes in health
care costs. The project will use medical records to evaluate longitudinal changes in
infant feeding practices and illness rates before and after the breast
feeding promotion program in Shiprock, NM. The medical records will be
obtained for all infants born in the year before and the year after the
promotion, roughly 2000 infants. Data will be collected regarding
initiation and duration of breast feeding, and illness episodes such as
respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, otitis media, bacteremia,
meningitis, and eczema. Hospital costs to administer formula, including
staff time caring infants in the nursery, and money saved through declines
in illness visits and hospitalizations, will be assessed along with
community expenses for formula. We anticipate that while the proportion
of infants experiencing illness in each feeding group will remain constant
over time, community rates of illness will decline as the intervention
affects the proportion of infants breastfed. If breastfeeding is shown to
decrease infant morbidity, the project will have identified a low cost
intervention which improves the health of infants, cuts health care costs,
and is particularly applicable to disadvantaged populations.
Effective start/end date8/1/937/31/96


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


Breast Feeding
Medical Records
Vulnerable Populations
Health Care Costs
Hospital Costs
Otitis Media
Feeding Behavior


  • Medicine(all)