Does early breastfeeding reduce the risk of infant mortality more than later breastfeeding?

Last updated: February 20, 2022
Yes. Both studies in this list that examine the question agreed on this conclusion. We identified both studies as literature reviews, which are studies that review and often evaluate the findings of many studies on a question. This gives us more confidence that the answer is correct.
This short answer was generated by aggregating the answers that each of the studies below gave to the question (as indicated by State of K members) and adjusting for source quality and other factors. If key studies are missing or the answers attributed to individual studies are incorrect, the above answer could be wrong. For medical questions, don't rely on the information here. Consult a medical professional.
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Chart summary of 2 studies examining this question

All answers are assigned by State of K users. The label Couldn't Identify means that State of K was not able to determine whether a study answers the question "yes" or "no". This could be due to several factors. One possibility is that a study found some evidence to indicate that the answer to the question is "yes" and some evidence to indicate that the answer is "no". This often happens when a study uses two or more proxies to study the same phenomenon (i.e. firearm sales figures and self-reported firearm ownership rates as proxies for the prevalence of firearms) and the proxies yield different results when looking for correlations with another phenomenon (i.e. firearm-related deaths). Alternatively, the label may be applied if the phenomenon under study (i.e. whether breast milk improves cognitive function) is true for one group, but not another (i.e. true for girls, but not for boys). Yet another possibility is that a study found there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion regarding the question. Finally, the full text or abstract of a study may not have been written clearly or was inaccessible. This would make it difficult to determine how a study answered a question.

All labels of Literature Reviews and source quality are assigned by State of K. All labels of High Quality Source are assigned based on whether the publication in which the article appeared was ranked as Q1 by Scimago Institutions Rankings. Certain well-regarded think tanks are also given this label.

Literature Reviews
Although we recommend you consider all of the studies below, we believe the following studies are literature reviews, which survey and evaluate many studies on this question:

SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 2
Sorted by publication year
1
Delayed breastfeeding initiation and infant survival: A systematic review and meta-analysis
"ObjectiveTo assess the existing evidence regarding breastfeeding initiation time and infant morbidity and mortality.Study designWe conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, Popline, LILACS, AIM, and Index Medicus to identify existing evidence. We included observational studies and randomized control trials that examined the association between breastfeeding initiation time and mortality, morbidity, or nutrition outcomes from birth through 12 months of age in a population of infants who all initiated breastfeeding. Two reviewers independently extracted data from eligible studies using a standardized form. We pooled effect estimates using fixed-effects meta-analysis.ResultsWe pooled five studies, including 136,047 infants, which examined the association between very early breastfeeding initiation and neonatal mortality. Compared to infants who initiated breastfeeding ≤1 hour after birth, infants who initiated breastfeeding 2–23 hours after birth had a 33% greater risk of neonatal mortality (95% CI: 13–56%, I2 = 0%), and infants who initiated breastfeeding ≥24 hours after birth had a 2.19-fold greater risk of neonatal mortality (95% CI: 1.73–2.77, I2 = 33%). Among the subgroup of infants exclusively breastfed in the neonatal period, those who initiated breastfeeding ≥24 hours after birth had an 85% greater risk of neonatal mortality compared to infants who initiated <24 hours after birth (95% CI: 29–167%, I2 = 33%).ConclusionsPolicy frameworks and models to estimate newborn and infant survival, as well as health facility policies, should consider the potential independent effect of early breastfeeding initiation."
AUTHOR
Emily R. Smith
PUBLISHED
2017 PLoS One
Literature Review
High Quality Source
Yes
Yes
2
Timing of Breastfeeding Initiation and Exclusivity of Breastfeeding During the First Month of Life: Effects on Neonatal Mortality and Morbidity—A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
"The purpose of this study was to review the evidence on the effect of initiation of breastfeeding early after birth and of exclusive breastfeeding during the first month in reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity. We searched Cochrane and PubMed databases for all available papers addressing our review questions and identified eleven papers. Data were extracted using a standard abstraction form. Evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system. Meta-analysis was done using STATA 11.0. Early initiation of breastfeeding was associated with a reduced risk of neonatal mortality. Initiating breastfeeding after the first hour doubled the risk of neonatal mortality. Exclusively breastfed neonates had a lower risk of mortality and infection-related deaths in the first month than partially breastfed neonates. Exclusively breastfed neonates also had a significantly lower risk of sepsis, diarrhea and respiratory infections compared with those partially breastfed. The pooled evidence indicates that substantial benefits in reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity can be achieved with effective promotion of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding during the first month of life."
AUTHOR
Jehangir Khan
PUBLISHED
2015 Maternal and Child Health Journal
Literature Review
High Quality Source
Yes
Yes