Retrospective and prospective data collected in Cameroon were used to reassess hypotheses about how infant and early childhood mortality is affected by birth spacing and breast-feeding. These data show that: (a) a short preceding birth interval is detrimental for child survival in the first 4 months of life; (b) full and partial breast-feeding have direct protective effects on child survival in the first 4-6 months of life, with the effects of the former stronger than those of the latter; (c) early subsequent conception significantly increases mortality risks in the first 16 months of life of the index child. These findings are robust to various controls, e.g. study design, data defects, child's health conditions at/around birth, postnatal maternal and child recurrent illnesses, patterns of utilisation of health care services, and immunisation status of the child.
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