Social Transfers for Exclusive Breastfeeding (STEB) Intervention in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Children in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) receive suboptimal nutrition because of low breastfeeding rates, undermining their developmental potential. While major public health campaigns have attempted to increase breastfeeding rates, they have been largely unsuccessful. One explanation for these unsuccessful interventions is the economic and financial constraints faced by mothers. A potential solution for alleviating these pressures is providing social transfers to support breastfeeding; defined as a cash or in-kind transfer. Capitalizing on key strategies used in previous social transfer programs, we will assess the effectiveness of social transfer intervention for increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates in Vientiane, Lao PDR. This study aims to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to assess whether social transfers can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR. As of November 2023, the study has enrolled 300 participants. Study participation is ongoing until December 2026 at minimum. Over the study lifetime, 93% have completed all visits. We see potential for a long-term program that may be implemented in other low- or lower-middle-income countries with only minor modifications. The RCT will be used as a basis for observational studies and to investigate the impact of human milk on child fecal microbiota and growth.