Can prolonged breastfeeding duration impair child growth? Evidence from rural Ethiopia

Daniel Muluwork Atsbeha, Rodolfo M. Nayga, Kyrre Rickertsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The severity of stunting due to inadequacy decreases as breastfeeding is prolonged. Many studies in developing countries have found a negative association between breastfeeding duration and child growth. This finding creates a public policy dilemma given the widely accepted benefits of breastfeeding. Plausible causes for the negative association include reverse causality and omitted variables. Using the 2005 Demographic and Health Survey from rural Ethiopia, we find a downward bias in the estimated growth effect of breastfeeding duration before we control for the nutritional adequacy of complementary foods. Once the omitted variable problem is addressed, we find no evidence of adverse growth effects from prolonged breastfeeding. Instead, we find that the effect of inadequate supplementation on child growth is stronger for children that are breast-fed for shorter duration. These results support policies aimed at promoting breastfeeding beyond the first six months of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalFood Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partly supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF 2014 S1A3 A2044459 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Breastfeeding duration
  • Child growth
  • Complementary food
  • Health production
  • Omitted variable bias
  • Stunting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Can prolonged breastfeeding duration impair child growth? Evidence from rural Ethiopia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this