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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989


AGRELO, Fernando et al. Growth of breast-fed and bottle-fed children up to 2 years of age: the CLACYD study, 1993-1995 . Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.1, pp.44-52. ISSN 1680-5348.

Studies done in various countries show important differences in the growth of breast-fed and bottle-fed children. In addition, it has been found that breast-fed children grow more slowly beginning at the age of 2 or 3 months in comparison with the reference pattern of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These results cast doubt on whether maximum growth is the same as optimal growth. The objective of this study was to compare the growth in weight and length, from birth to 24 months, for a group of children who were breast-fed with that of a group who were bottle-fed. The study was also intended to describe the growth of the breast-fed group in relation to the NCHS/WHO norms and a WHO "12-month breast-fed pooled data set." For this research, data were analyzed from the "Cordoba: lactation, feeding, growth, and development" study (or CLACYD study, for its Spanish-language acronym). That study looked at a representative cohort, stratified by social class, of children born in 1993 in the city of Cordoba, Argentina. The researchers analyzed anthropometric data on 74 children who were breast-fed during the first year of life and on 108 bottle-fed children. The data had been recorded, using standardized techniques, at birth and at 6, 12, and 24 months of age. Both groups were homogenous with respect to the age and schooling of the parents, social stratum, birth order, maternal height, and child’s weight and length at birth. The living conditions (housing construction and availability of water and sewer services) were better among the group that was bottle-fed (P = 0.04). The breast-fed children had a lower weight and a shorter length at 6, 12, and 24 months than did the bottle-fed children. The breast-fed children also showed a slowing in growth with respect to the NCHS/WHO guidelines beginning in the second semester. This indicates that the NCHS/WHO norms are not totally adequate for evaluating the growth of breast-fed children in Cordoba, Argentina. In the high and middle social strata, the values for the breast-fed group resembled those for the WHO "pooled data set," both in weight and length. In the low and very low social strata, weight values were satisfactory, but the figures for length were less than those of the "pooled data set." The gap in length found among the low and very low social strata does not reduce the validity of the WHO "pooled data set" reference, but rather indicates the influence of living conditions on linear growth.

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