METHODS: We searched for evidence regarding community-based peer support for mothers in databases, such as PubMed/MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science, SocINDEX, and PsycINFO. We selected three outcome variables for breastfeeding practices, namely, exclusive breastfeeding duration, breastfeeding within the first hour of life, and prelacteal feeding. We conducted meta-analyses of the included randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies.
RESULTS: For our review, we selected 47 articles for synthesis out of 1,855 retrieved articles. In low- and middle-income countries, compared to usual care, community-based peer support increased exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months (RR: 1.90, 95% CI: 1.62-2.22), at 5 months (RR: 9.55, 95% CI: 6.65-13.70) and at 6 months (RR: 3.53, 95% CI: 2.49-5.00). In high-income countries, compared to usual care, peer support increased exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months (RR: 2.61, 95% CI: 1.15-5.95). In low- and middle-income countries, compared to usual care, peer support increased the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life (RR: 1.51, 95% CI: 1.04-2.21) and decreased the risk of prelacteal feeding (RR: 0.38, 95% CI: 0.33-0.45).
CONCLUSIONS: Community-based peer support for mothers is effective in increasing the duration of exclusive breastfeeding, particularly for infants aged 3-6 months in low- and middle-income countries. Such support also encourages mothers to initiate breastfeeding early and prevents newborn prelacteal feeding.