Does the Brazilian cash transfer program (bolsa familia): Protect nutritional deviations among infants and breastfeeding practices in a capital of the Central Region of Brazil?

Cash transfer programs are strategies used by countries, intended for impoverished families, which play an essential role in promoting access to public services such as health, education, and social protection. Programs may also promote food and nutrition security. The Brazilian Cash Transfer Program (“Bolsa Familia”) (BFP) aims to alleviate immediate poverty and combat hunger. The aim of this study is to characterize the nutritional and breastfeeding status of children under two years old among both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of BFP. Data from the Brazilian Food and Nutritional Surveillance System, available in the primary healthcare service system of Goiania, Brazil, in 2013 were collected. The following variables were evaluated: sex, weight, height/length, age, and breastfeeding status. Data from 4,567 children under 24 months old were assessed, of which 2.72% (n= 124) were BFP beneficiaries. Beneficiaries had a lower odd of receiving breast milk compared to non-beneficiaries (OR= 0.46, 95% CI:0.31; 0.66, p= 0.0001). Regarding nutritional status, 18.14% (n= 790) of children were diagnosed with nutritional deviation, and overweight was the most prevalent (n=352, 8.04%). Beneficiaries presented a lower odd of developing stunting when compared to non-beneficiaries of BFP (OR= 0.44, 95% CI:0.25; 0.77, p= 0.006). Being a BFP beneficiary was a protective factor for the stunting in children under 24 months old in Goiania, Brazil. However, measures to promote and support breastfeeding should be intensified in primary healthcare service, aimed primarily at children in social vulnerability.