Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding

Systematic reviews and meta-analysis

Horta, Bernardo L.; Bahl, Rajiv; Martinés, José Carlos; Victora, Cesar G.; World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 52
Publication date: 2007
Languages: English
ISBN: 9241595230; 924159523X; 9789241595230



The Department of Child and Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the epidemiology unit in the University of Pelotas, Brazil, conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis of studies to assess the association between breastfeeding and blood pressure, diabetes and related indicators, serum cholesterol, overweight and obesity, and intellectual performance.

Two reviewers independently evaluated study quality, using a standardized protocol, and disagreement was resolved by consensus rating. Subjects who were breastfed experienced lower mean blood pressure and total cholesterol, as well as higher performance in intelligence tests. Prevalence of overweight/obesity and type-2 diabetes was lower among breastfed subjects. All effects were statistically significant but for some outcomes their magnitude was relatively modest.