Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Issue 4, pp e217–e222 | Cite as

Breastfeeding as a means to prevent infant morbidity and mortality in Aboriginal Canadians: A population prevented fraction analysis

  • Kathryn E. McIsaacEmail author
  • Rahim Moineddin
  • Flora I. Matheson
Quantitative Research



Canadian Aboriginal infants experience poor health compared with other Canadian infants. Breastfeeding protects against many infant infections that Canadian Aboriginals disproportionately experience. The objective of our research was to estimate the proportion of select infant infection and mortality outcomes that could be prevented if all Canadian Aboriginal infants were breastfed.


We used Levin’s formula to estimate the proportion of three infectious outcomes and one mortality outcome that could be prevented in infancy by breastfeeding. Estimates were calculated for First Nations (both on- and off-reserve), Métis and Inuit as well as all Canadian infants for comparison. We extracted prevalence estimates of breastfeeding practices from national population-based surveys. We extracted relative risk estimates from published meta-analyses.


Between 5.1 % and 10.6% of otitis media, 24.3% and 41.4% of gastrointestinal infection, 1 3.8% and 26.1 % of hospitalizations from lower respiratory tract infections, and 12.9% and 24.6% of sudden infant death could be prevented in Aboriginal infants if they received any breastfeeding.


Interventions that promote, protect and support breastfeeding may prevent a substantial proportion of infection and mortality in Canadian Aboriginal infants.

Key words

Aboriginal breast feeding communicable diseases sudden infant death epidemiology 



La santé des nourrissons autochtones canadiens est mauvaise par rapport à celle des autres nourrissons canadiens. L’allaitement maternel protège contre plusieurs infections infantiles que les Autochtones canadiens contractent de façon disproportionnée. L’objectif de notre recherche était d’estimer la proportion d’infections infantiles sélectionnées et la mortalité qui en résulte qui pourraient être évitée si tous les nourrissons autochtones canadiens étaient nourris au sein.


Nous avons utilisé la formule de Levin pour estimer la proportion de trois infections contractées et d’une mortalité qui aurait pu être évitées grâce à l’allaitement maternel. On a fait des estimations pour les Premières Nations (à l’intérieur comme à l’extérieur des réserves), les Métis et les Inuits, de même que pour tous les nourrissons canadiens à titre de comparaison. Nous avons extrait l’estimation de la prévalence des pratiques d’allaitement maternel à partir d’études nationales fondées sur la population. Nous avons extrait l’estimation du risque relatif des metaanalyses publiées.


De 5,1 % à 10,6 % des otites moyennes, de 24,3 % à 41,4 % des infections gastro-intestinales, de 1 3,8 % à 26,1 % des hospitalisations dues aux infections des voies respiratoires inférieures et de 12,9 % à 24,6 % des morts subites de nourrissons auraient pu être évitées chez les nourrissons autochtones s’ils avaient été nourris au sein.


Les interventions qui favorisent, protègent et appuient l’allaitement maternel pourraient éviter une forte proportion des infections et des décès chez les nourrissons autochtones canadiens.

Mots Clés

Autochtone allaitement maternel maladies transmissibles mort subite du nourrisson épidémiologie 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn E. McIsaac
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rahim Moineddin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Flora I. Matheson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Inner City Health, Li Ka Shing Knowledge InstituteSaint Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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