Columbia UniversityThis report could be of grave importance to pregnant women, especially those infected with HIV. A study from Zambia proposes that discontinuing breastfeeding early may lead to more harm than good for children not contaminated by HIV but are born to HIV-positive mothers. Halting breastfeeding prior to 18 months appeared to be linked to important raises in mortality among these children.

The preliminary theory of the study authors proved to be erroneous. It proposed that by 4 months of age, children could have passed the crucial developmental stage when breastfeeding is necessary to their survival. Nevertheless, discontinuing breastfeeding at 4 months as opposed to customary breastfeeding as the child arrives at 6 months to 24 months or older, apparently did not reduce mortality or play an important function in guarding the child from spreading of HIV.

Study author Louise Kuhn, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City, commented, “Our results help support the recent change in the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. The new guidelines encourage postnatal use of antiretrovirals through the duration of breastfeeding to prevent vertical [mother-to-child] transmission.”

These results seemed to be steady with those for mothers not contaminated with HIV. Longer breastfeeding may be essential to shield children against likely deadly infectious diseases, particularly those common in low-resource settings. To avert postnatal HIV transmission, nevertheless, mothers with HIV ought to be on antiretroviral drugs.

The study was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.