In a prospective study of infants and their feeding in south east Queensland, Australia, the incidences of reported diarrhoea and/or vomiting in breast, bottle, and mixed (breast and bottle) fed infants were compared from birth to 1 year. Up to 6 months infants who were given breast feeds, with or without other milks, had less diarrhoea and/or vomiting than those given bottle feeds only. Breast feeding seemed to protect the infant against possible introduced infections even when other milks were given along with the breast milk. After 6 months breast feeding did not reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal infection. In both upper and lower social class families infants given solids before 3 months had less diarrhoea and/or vomiting than those given solids later. Bottle fed infants aged 3-6 months in upper social class families had fewer gastrointestinal problems than those of lower social class families. This study suggests that up to the age of 6 months, in this population, breast feeding protects the infant against diarrhoea and/or vomiting, but other milks and solids can safely be given to supplement the breast milk. Breast feeding conferred no significant protection after 6 months.
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