Infant and young child feeding during natural disasters: A systematic integrative literature review

Published:January 05, 2022DOI:



      As climate change worsens, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters continues to increase. These extreme weather events particularly affect the physical and mental health of vulnerable groups such as mothers and infants. From low-income to high income countries, poorly organised disaster response can negatively impact infant and young child feeding practices.


      To examine challenges and supportive strategies for infant and young child feeding during natural disasters to inform further research and guide disaster recommendations and practice.


      A comprehensive search strategy explored the electronic databases PubMed, CINAHL and Cochrane Library. Screening, data extraction and analysis were conducted using Covidence. Quality assessment was conducted using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Studies were analysed using thematic analysis.


      This review included 13 studies (4 mixed methods, 1 critical ethnography, 2 quasi-experimental studies, 4 descriptive studies, 1 qualitative study, 1 evidence gap map analysis). Breastfeeding facilitators during natural disaster contexts are privacy for breastfeeding, community and family support, adaptation of professional breastfeeding support to the local context and pre-existing breastfeeding practice. Breastfeeding challenges during natural disasters include decreased breastfeeding self-efficacy, lack of knowledge and resources and over-reliance on formula baby milks. Formula baby milk feeding challenges during natural disasters are the lack of access to resources required for hygienic formula baby milk preparation as well as the lack of availability of formula baby milk in some contexts.


      This systematic integrative review demonstrates that interventions which facilitate optimal infant and young child feeding in natural disaster contexts must be culturally and socially appropriate; increasing women’s knowledge of optimal breastfeeding and safe formula baby milk feeding practices as well as breastfeeding self-efficacy.


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