Breastfeeding positively influences maternal and infant health. Considerable research with preterm infants is available, however, differences between preterm and term infants’ breastfeeding duration and factors influencing cessation has not been fully evaluated. This information is needed for developing focused interventions.
To compare factors affecting breastfeeding duration/cessation in preterm and term infants, including infant (latching, eating, food intolerance, weight gain), maternal (medications, weight loss concerns, stress/fatigue), and environmental (convenience, time, returning to work, family support) factors.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A cross-sectional survey using SurveyMonkey distributed through social media and online breastfeeding support groups included mothers ≥18 years old, with a child 12-24 months old, US born, who received breastmilk at any point during the first year of life.
Breastfeeding rates at 0 through 12 months, reasons for cessation, breastfeeding education and demographics are reported. Chi-square was used for comparisons.
The majority of respondents (n = 531) were non-Hispanic White (78.7%), college-educated (61.6%), and from southern states (63.3%). Fifty had preterm (<37 weeks) and 481 term (>37 weeks) infants. No significant difference was found for exclusive breastfeeding between preterm and term infants at any point, 0-5 months; a significant difference at 6 months (40.0% vs 22.7%), χ² (1, n = 531) = 7.4, P < 0.01) was found. No differences in providing any breastmilk at any point were found. A significant difference in maternal medications, χ² (1, n = 531) = 6.1, P = 0.04 and multiple births, χ² (1, n = 531) = 11.5, P = 0.03 influencing cessation was found for both groups. Preterm infants more often participated in WIC; receiving breastfeeding education before giving birth resulted in higher breastfeeding rates at 6 and 12 months.
Differences exist in exclusive breastfeeding rates between preterm and term infants at 6 months. Maternal medications and multiple births may influence early breastfeeding cessation. Participation in WIC may positively influence breastfeeding duration. Research is needed to confirm findings in a more diverse sample.