Low Birthweight Infants Less Likely To Be Breastfed

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kirsten Herrick Ph.D. Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys National Center for Health Statistics Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Hyattsville, Maryland

Dr. Kirsten Herrick

Dr. Kirsten Herrick Ph.D.
Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
National Center for Health Statistics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hyattsville, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The benefits of breastfeeding are well established: for children, it offers protection against infections and increases in intelligence; for nursing women, it protects against breast cancer and improves birth spacing. But there is no nationally representative information about whether there are differences in breastfeeding by birth weight (BW).

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2014, we estimated the proportion of infants ever breastfed (initiated), and those reporting any breastfeeding at 1 month, 4 months, and 6 months by birth weight categories and birth year cohorts. Our sample size was 13,859.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Over the past two decades, more babies in the United States are initiating breastfeeding and are breastfeeding for longer. However, our analysis shows that low birth weight (LBW) babies (<2500g) are less likely to start breastfeeding and breastfeed for a shorter time than normal weight or bigger babies.

While breastfeeding initiation increased for both LBW and normal BW infants, the rates were lower in LBW infants. Between 1997-2000 and 2009-2012, breastfeeding increased from 67% to 78% for infants weighing 2500g or more at birth, while for LBW infants, the increase was from 49% to 65%.

In 2009-2012, 43% of infants weighing 2500g or more were breastfeeding at 6 months, compared with 28% of LBW infants.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There is a disparity in breastfeeding rates, based on birth weight. Fewer LBW infants start breastfeeding, and those who do breastfeed, do not breastfeed as long as their heavier counterparts.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It is important to continue monitoring breastfeeding rates in the U.S. population to understand barriers to breastfeeding and identify opportunities to support breastfeeding for all babies.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This study was unable to look at the reasons why an LBW infant may not start breastfeeding or may stop breastfeeding sooner than other infants. Other studies have shown that LBW infants, who are often premature, can have trouble breastfeeding. LBW infants may also spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which may also hinder breastfeeding.
Globally, there has been a great deal of work to make hospitals baby friendly and support breastfeeding. New efforts have also included making the NICU baby friendly, to support the unique needs of mothers and infants who may find themselves in this situation.

For additional information about breastfeeding, please see http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/index.htm

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Trends in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration by Birth Weight Among US Children, 1999-2012.
Herrick KA, Rossen LM, Kit BK, Wang CY, Ogden CL.
JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Jun 27. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0820. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.
PMID: 27367613

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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1 Comment
  • Beth Lichy
    Posted at 23:35h, 05 July Reply

    This is no surprise as most hospitals push formula supplementation of LBW infants even when moms strongly prefer human milk when the baby needs extra calories. Making donor milk available for low birth weight infants and encouraging mothers to continue to breastfeed/pump could change these rates.

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