Breastfeeding in Conflict Settings

2022 13 Project FLRF

Aga Khan University, with the Hospital for Sick Children, conducted Breastfeeding in Conflict Settings: Evidence Synthesis and Case Study Analysis to Inform Guidance on Effective Implementation of Promotive Interventions.

Acute malnutrition is one of the main reasons infants die during violent conflicts, and when families are displaced for long periods, interrupted breastfeeding is one of the main causes of such malnutrition. 

This is why Professor Zulfiqar A. Bhutta and Assistant Professor Jai Kumar Das from Aga Khan University, with the Hospital for Sick Children and supported by FLRF, set out to compile the most effective interventions that help mothers continue breastfeeding in crisis situations as part of a larger project investigating how to best deliver reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition interventions in conflict settings.

Breastfeeding is a key component of health and nutrition, and in conflict settings, can make a major difference to the lives of infants. Breastfeeding provides nutritional, immunological and developmental benefits that formula does not provide. Furthermore, clean water, essential for safe formula feeding, is often unavailable in conflict settings, increasing the risk of diarrhea among already vulnerable babies.

As many humanitarian agencies already promote appropriate infant and young child feeding through their relief efforts, and innovative techniques are being employed to encourage breastfeeding in emergencies, the project synthesized existing information and collected new data to plug information gaps.

These research findings have the potential to help define new international standards.

Rabbani A, Padhani ZA, A Siddiqui F, Das JK, Bhutta Z. Systematic review of infant and young child feeding practices in conflict areas: what the evidence advocates. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2020;10(9):e036757. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036757

Mirzazada S, Padhani ZA, Jabeen S, Fatima M, Rizvi A, Ansari U, et al. Impact of conflict on maternal and child health service delivery: a country case study of Afghanistan. Confl Health. 2020;14(1):38. DOI: 10.1186/s13031-020-00285-x

Das JK, Padhani ZA, Jabeen S, Rizvi A, Ansari U, Fatima M, et al. Impact of conflict on maternal and child health service delivery - how and how not: a country case study of conflict affected areas of Pakistan. Confl Health. 2020;14(1):32. DOI: 10.1186/s13031-020-00271-3

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