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Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) - What Does the Science Tell Us?

A scientific repository

On this page you will find a repository that provides an overview of what peer-reviewed journal articles currently state on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in an emergency context. It is compiled for the IFE Core Group by the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is maintained in partnership with the Emergency Nutrition Network and with financial support from the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

The repository aims to provide the reader with a snapshot of what is published with updates on a quarterly basis. All publications provide emerging evidence related to IYCF in emergency settings such as natural disasters, conflicts, and displacement including refugee settings. This repository originated from the identified need to develop a system to compile and share new IYCF-E research and build a virtual library of some of the most recent findings.

This repository features an interactive dashboard which allows you to search by keyword and filter by type of publication, countries of interest, and selected topic areas. Users view or download a PDF version by following the link at the top left of the dashboard.

The full repository provides summaries for 168 scientific publications from 1 January 2022 – 31 March 2024. Titles link to full papers if they are Open Access. Publications are selected using specific search engines (see 'About the Repository').

UPDATE 22 April 2024:

Several new publications offer guidance for protecting IYCF and nutrition in humanitarian settings, including reviews of current guidelines to identify gaps. This update offers new guidance related to the safety of breastfeeding after exposure to chemical and biological agents used in modern warfare, including safety considerations during treatment and practical guidance for breastmilk testing, monitoring symptoms, safe use of expressed breastmilk, and the minimum amount of time before breastfeeding can safely resume. Other guidelines mention strategies to support breastfeeding, safe alternatives to breastfeeding, facilitating relactation and induced lactation, and complementary feeding in emergency settings. Another review describes facilitators and barriers to wet nursing, contemporary attitudes and beliefs, and strategies to facilitate and support wet nursing in emergencies. Researchers highlighted gaps in current literature, including a lack of practical guidance for small and vulnerable newborns, wet nursing, and strengthening health systems in humanitarian settings.

Other researchers examine the impacts natural disasters and climate change on IYCF. One study describes changes in maternity care and breastfeeding practices following hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, highlighting the important role of healthcare workers in supporting breastfeeding following childbirth, especially when regular breastfeeding and other postnatal services are interrupted. One commentary describes three stages of protecting nutrition following a natural disaster, with specific recommendations for each stage. Another article explores the impact of climate change on breastfeeding, emphasizing the need for region-specific climate action plans that incorporate IYCF.

New publications on IYCF in displaced families include the first known report of successful adoptive breastfeeding in a refugee camp, the impact of financial assistance on child stunting among Syrian refugees in Türkiye, and strategies to reduce the high prevalence of diarrheal illness among young children living in internally displaced camps in Somaliland. Another study explored IYCF knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, practices among refugee, migrant, and asylum seekers in Portugal, noting key differences in IYCF practices between migrant and the host populations and highlighting the need for universal breastfeeding support in hospital settings.

Read previous update announcements using the links below:

As of April 2024, this repository covers emerging evidence from the following countries:






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Reference this page

IYCF-E Repository.



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