STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to investigate the relationship between duration of breast feeding and growth of children. DESIGN--The study was a survey of randomly selected clusters of households. SETTING--The study was community based and took place in an urban township with a population of over 43,000 people in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. PARTICIPANTS--The sample consisted of 438 children aged 0 to 59 months surveyed between October 1984 and June 1986. Due to missing information, 394 children were used in the analysis. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--After controlling for confounding variables, duration of breast feeding was found to be associated with height for age among children in their first two years of life, but not in the later years of life. There was no significant protective effect of breast feeding on undernutrition and acute malnutrition as measured by weight for age and weight for height. CONCLUSIONS--The findings suggest that, in this community, duration of breast feeding is strongly associated with the linear growth experiences of children and the association changes with the infant's age. One strong risk factor suspected to be responsible for the poor growth performance of children in this study is the low nutritional quality of the weaning foods which are used to supplement breast milk during the lengthy weaning period.
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