Breast-feeding and the nutritional status of nursing children in Chile
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The work reported here sought to describe the feeding patterns of Chilean children up to 18 month old and their relation to nutritional status. To this end, a survey was conducted in 1993 of 9 330 Chilean children under 18 month old who were receiving care through the Natinonal Health Service System-which provides care for 75 per cent of all children under age 6. The children, whose mothers or caretakers were interviewed, constituted 94 per cent of a sample selected at random from 102 of the 320 urban health clinics located throughout the country. The interview served to identify the type of feeding (exclusive breast-feeding, breast-feeding plus bottle-feeding, breast-feeding plus solid food, exclusive bottle-feeding, or bottle-feeding plus solid food) and to determine the nutritional status of the participants in terms of standards used by United States National Center for Health Stadistics and the World Health Organization. Children were deemed at risk of malnutrition if they have z scores on the weight-for-age distribution between 1.0 and 2.0 standard deviations below the US/WHO standard and as actually malnourished if they have z scores of over 2.0 standard deviations below the standard. The survey found exclusive breast-feeding prevalences of 86.5 per cent, 66.7 per cent, and 25.3 per cent among infants 1, 3, and 6 months old. Some 12.1 per cent of the participants were found to have a weight-for-age deficiency, 30.7 per cent exhibited a height-for-age deficiency, and 35.7 per cent were found to be overweight. The prevalence of weight-for-age and height-for-age deficiencies were found to be considerably higher among bottle-fed children than among breast-fed children. In general, the results demostrated the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding through the first 6 months of live, the need to complement exclusive breast-feeding with solid food after that time, and the superior nutritional status of breast-fed children within the age groups studiedEdited version of an article published in Spanish in the Bol. Oficina Sanit. Panam. Vol. 119(6):494-502 under the title "Lactancia natural y estado nutricional del lactante chileno"
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