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Zambian Study Finds Longer Breastfeeding Best for HIV-Infected Mothers

A new study from Zambia suggests that halting breastfeeding early causes more harm than good for children not infected with HIV who are born to HIV-positive mothers. Stopping breastfeeding before 18 months was associated with significant increases in mortality among these children, according to the study's findings, described in the Feb. 1, 2010 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The researchers' initial hypothesis, which proved to be incorrect, suggested that by 4 months of age, children would have passed the critical developmental point when breastfeeding is essential to their survival. However, 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.

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