Impact of breast-feeding on Giardia lamblia infections in Bilbeis, Egypt.

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  • 1 University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, USA.

A total of 152 infants were followed from birth to 1 year of age in a rural community of Egypt to document Giardia lamblia infection and to determine the effect of breast-feeding on enteric infections by this protozoan. Asymptomatic Giardia infections persisted as long as 4 months, with a mean duration of excretion of 7.18 weeks. The incidence of asymptomatic infection was 4.5 episodes per child-year. Exclusively breast-fed infants had lower risk for asymptomatic (odds ratio [OR] = 0.66, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.45-0.96, P < 0.05) and symptomatic infections (relative risk [RR] = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.27-0.90, P < 0.05). Furthermore, breast-fed infants had fewer clinical manifestations, including mucus in stool (23.8% versus 76.2%, P = 0.08), loss of appetite (17.6% versus 82.3%, P < 0.05), and abdominal tenderness (17% versus 82.9%, P < 0.05) compared with infants who were not exclusively breast-fed. Breast-feeding should be considered as an effective means to prevent Giardia infections and should be encouraged in regions where G. lambia is highly endemic.