Document Detail

Breast-feeding and infant mortality in Norway 1860-1930.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  2670949     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Using medical records from maternity clinics in the two Norwegian cities Oslo and Bergen, the effect of lactation on infant mortality during the period 1860-1930 is examined, comparing those who were and were not breast-fed in a total of about 6900 live born infants. The mortality of children not breast-fed was nearly three times that of those who were breast-fed. In a Cox regression analysis the infant's year of birth and the mother's marital status were found to influence mortality in addition to lactation. Children born to unmarried mothers experienced a mortality about twice that of those born to married mothers, both during on-going lactation and in the absence of lactation, up to about 1915. Children born in Oslo had a slightly higher mortality than those born in Bergen. The duration of lactation was found to have a continuing protective effect on infant survival after weaning--the longer the duration, the lower the mortality after cessation of lactation.
A review of records from 1860-1930 in the Norwegian cities of Oslo and Bergen examining the relationship between breastfeeding and infant mortality found that the longer the duration of lactation, the lower the mortality. Supporting past observations, there was a substantially higher infant mortality rate reported among infants who were artificially fed than those who were breastfed. A review of past literature encouraging breastfeeding in a time of high infant mortality dating back 200 years is also discussed. Although these publications were intended for doctors, midwives and mothers, they were not widely distributed and consequently had little effect. In at least 2 studies in the late 1800s, the infant mortality rate among artificially fed infants was found to be twice that of the breast fed group. A higher mortality rate was observed among infants born of unmarried mothers. It follows that unmarried mothers generally lived in smaller quarters with poorer hygiene and that these and other factors affected the mortality rate. In general, towns had greater mortality rates than rural districts. Though this study encompasses a specific time and setting, breastfeeding has been proven to have reduced the rate of infant mortality in many other countries and situations throughout history.
M Rosenberg
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of biosocial science     Volume:  21     ISSN:  0021-9320     ISO Abbreviation:  J Biosoc Sci     Publication Date:  1989 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1989-09-27     Completed Date:  1989-09-27     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0177346     Medline TA:  J Biosoc Sci     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  335-48     Citation Subset:  IM; J; Q    
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MeSH Terms
Breast Feeding*
History, 19th Century
History, 20th Century
Infant Mortality*
Infant, Newborn
Medical Records
Time Factors

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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