Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Risk of Postpartum Depression Interview with:

Dr. Toledo

Christine Toledo, PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
Assistant Professor
Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing
Florida Atlantic University What is the background for this study?

Response: According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 11 and 20 percent of women who give birth each year in the U.S. have postpartum depression symptoms, equating to nearly 800,000 women every year. Postpartum Depression provides significant health risks to both the mother and child and is the greatest risk factor for maternal suicide and infanticide. What are the main findings?

Response: Results of the study, published in the journal Public Health Nursing, demonstrate that postpartum depression is a significant health issue among American women with nearly 13 percent of the sample being at risk. Findings showed that women who were currently breastfeeding at the time of data collection had statistically significant lower risk of postpartum depression than women who were not breastfeeding. In addition, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between breastfeeding length and risk of postpartum depression. As the number of weeks that women breastfed increased, their postpartum depression decreased. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Implications from the study suggest that sustained breastfeeding decreases a woman’s risk for postpartum depression. These significant results showed in women who were currently breastfeeding and those who breastfed for longer periods. It has been well validated in the literature the health benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and child, this study supports the benefit of breastfeeding on mental health. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The study was able to provide significant evidence that there is a relationship between breastfeeding status and postpartum depression symptoms using a large population-based dataset representative of American mothers. Future research needs to investigate how this relationship works, what are possible mediators between the two variables. Additionally, research is needed to investigate whether this relationship works better or worse in subgroups of women.

Any disclosures?  We would like to acknowledge the CDC PRAMS Study group. The study was funded by the Ph.D. Scholarly Award by the Sigma Theta International, Beta Tau Chapter.


Christine Toledo, Rosina Cianelli, Natalia Villegas Rodriguez, Giovanna De Oliveira, Karina Gattamorta, Danuta Wojnar, Emmanuela Ojukwu. The significance of breastfeeding practices on postpartum depression risk. Public Health Nursing, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/phn.12969



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Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD