Washington, Jan 15 (ANI): A new study has revealed that stopping breastfeeding early might increase mortality risk in children born to HIV-infected mothers.
The research team from Zambia assumed that by 4 months of age, children would have passed the critical developmental point when breastfeeding is essential to their survival.
However, the findings showed that stopping breastfeeding at 4 months, compared to usual breastfeeding as the child reaches 6 months to 24 months or older, did not decrease mortality or play a significant role in protecting the child from HIV transmission.
The study results were consistent with those for mothers not infected with HIV.
Longer breastfeeding is necessary to protect children against potentially fatal infectious diseases, especially those prevalent in low-resource settings.
To prevent postnatal HIV transmission, however, mothers with HIV should be on antiretroviral drugs.
"Our results help support the recent change in the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission," said study author Louise Kuhn, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City.
"The new guidelines encourage postnatal use of antiretrovirals through the duration of breastfeeding to prevent vertical [mother-to-child] transmission," Kuhn added.
The study appears in journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. (ANI)