European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 169, Issue 12, pp 1471–1476

Breastfeeding protects against acute gastroenteritis due to rotavirus in infants

  • Anita Plenge-Bönig
  • Nelís Soto-Ramírez
  • Wilfried Karmaus
  • Gudula Petersen
  • Susan Davis
  • Johannes Forster
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00431-010-1245-0

Cite this article as:
Plenge-Bönig, A., Soto-Ramírez, N., Karmaus, W. et al. Eur J Pediatr (2010) 169: 1471. doi:10.1007/s00431-010-1245-0


To assess whether breastfeeding protects against acute gastroenteritis (AGE) due to rotavirus (RV) infection compared to RV-negative AGE (RV−) in children age 0–12 months. Data from a community-based study of children with AGE from 30 pediatric practices in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria were evaluated. A case–control design was conducted with RV-positive AGE (RV+) cases and RV− AGE as controls. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using log-linear regression models adjusting for child’s age, family size, number of siblings, child care attendance, and nationality. A total of 1,256 stool samples were collected from infants with AGE; 315 (25%) were RV+ and 941 RV−. Being breastfed in the period of disease inception reduced the risk of AGE due to RV+ (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.37–0.76). In infants 0–6 months of age, the protective effect was stronger (OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.19–0.55) than in 7–12-month-old children. Our study adds to the evidence of a protective concurrent effect of breastfeeding against rotavirus infection in infants, particularly in children 6 months and younger. Breastfeeding is important to diminish rotavirus-related gastroenteritis in infants before vaccination can be introduced.


Acute gastroenteritis Breastfeeding Rotavirus Infants 



Acute gastrointestinal enteritis


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


Immunoglobulin A


Odds ratio

95% CI

95% confidence interval


Rotavirus negative


Rotavirus positive

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Plenge-Bönig
    • 1
  • Nelís Soto-Ramírez
    • 2
  • Wilfried Karmaus
    • 2
  • Gudula Petersen
    • 3
  • Susan Davis
    • 4
  • Johannes Forster
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute for Hygiene and EnvironmentHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Wyeth Pharma GermanyMünsterGermany
  4. 4.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  5. 5.St. JosefskrankenhausFreiburgGermany

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