Breastfeeding is associated with reduced childhood hospitalization: evidence from a Scottish Birth Cohort (1997-2009)

Glasgow Centre for Population Health Breastfeeding Project Steering Group, Omotomilola M Ajetunmobi, Bruce Whyte, James Chalmers, David M Tappin, Linda Wolfson, Michael Fleming, Alison MacDonald, Rachael Wood, Diane L Stockton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the risk of childhood hospitalization associated with infant feeding patterns at 6-8 weeks of age in Scotland.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective population level study based on the linkage of birth, death, maternity, infant health, child health surveillance, and admission records for children born as single births in Scotland between 1997 and 2009 (n = 502 948) followed up to March 2012. Descriptive analyses, Kaplan Meier tests, and Cox regression were used to quantify the association between the mode of infant feeding and risk of childhood hospitalization for respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract infections, and other common childhood ailments during the study period.

RESULTS: Within the first 6 months of life, there was a greater hazard ratio (HR) of hospitalization for common childhood illnesses among formula-fed infants (HR 1.40; 95% CI 1.35-1.45) and mixed-fed infants (HR 1.18; 95% CI 1.11-1.25) compared with infants exclusively breastfed after adjustment for parental, maternal, and infant health characteristics. Within the first year of life and beyond, a greater relative risk of hospitalization was observed among formula-fed infants for a range of individual illnesses reported in childhood including gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tract infections, otitis media, fever, asthma, diabetes, and dental caries.

CONCLUSIONS: Using linked administrative data, we found greater risks of hospitalization in early childhood for a range of common childhood illnesses among Scottish infants who were not exclusively breastfed at 6-8 weeks of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-5.e4
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infection
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Population Surveillance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland


Dive into the research topics of 'Breastfeeding is associated with reduced childhood hospitalization: evidence from a Scottish Birth Cohort (1997-2009)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this