Cesar Victora

Emeritus Professor, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
Share this profile
For outstanding contributions to maternal and child health and nutrition in low and middle income countries, with particular focus on the impact of exclusive breastfeeding on infant mortality and on the long-term impact of early-life nutrition.

The work:

Dr. Victora’s career has focused on the factors affecting maternal and child health in low- and middle income countries. He has concentrated in the three main areas of child health and nutrition, health program monitoring and evaluation, and health equity. Returning to Brazil after his doctorate, he helped set up one of the longest running birth cohort studies in the world, the 1982 Pelotas Birth Cohort, in which 6,000 individuals are being followed up to the present time. His studies helped establish the influence of the first 1,000 days (from conception until the age of two years) on lifelong outcomes, including chronic diseases and human capital.

The Impact:

Possibly, Dr. Victora’s greatest contribution to Public Health was his work in the 1980s with the first study showing the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for preventing infant mortality. His findings contributed to global policy recommendations by UNICEF and the World Health Organization for mothers to breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months of life. More recently, his long-term birth cohorts documented the benefits of breastfeeding for adult intelligence, education and income, as well as the long-term consequences of early-life undernutrition. Dr. Victora also made important contributions on how to evaluate the impact of health programs on child mortality and on the study of social inequalities in child health.