Predicting the Duration of Lactation: Evidence from a National Survey

Authors

  • Sharon Piper MPH, RNC,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sharon Piper is Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., and a labor and delivery nurse who specializes in breastfeeding education and support. Peggy Parks is Associate Professor in the Department of Maternal Child Health, University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Nursing, and a developmental psychologist specializing in infancy and parenting.
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  • Peggy L. Parks PhD

    1. Sharon Piper is Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., and a labor and delivery nurse who specializes in breastfeeding education and support. Peggy Parks is Associate Professor in the Department of Maternal Child Health, University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Nursing, and a developmental psychologist specializing in infancy and parenting.
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Address correspondence to Sharon Piper, The Catholic University of America, School of Nursing, Gowan Hall, Washington, D.C., 20064.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Background: Despite caregiver and policy support for breastfeeding, rates for initiation and duration of breastfeeding fell far short of Healthy People 2000 goals during the 1980s. Methods: Data from the 1988 National Maternal-Infant Health Survey, collected from January 1989 through June 1991, were analyzed to examine predictors of duration of lactation for a sample of 2372 breastfeeding women. We conducted comparisons between women who fully breastfed and those who partially breastfed using logistic regression analysis. Results: Mothers were more likely to breastfeed for longer than six months if they fully breastfed during the first month postpartum, were nonsmokers, were of higher parity, were consistent in their prenatal intent to breastfeed fully or partially and in their postpartum behaviors, participated in childbirth education classes, and delayed their return to work postpartum. Conclusions: In this study sample, although rates did not meet Healthy People 2000 goals for duration of breastfeeding, some predictors of duration were identified that can be affected by programmatic support or public policy. Our findings indicated that variables that are associated with breastfeeding and longer duration of the practice are typically correlated with social status. To support the development of breastfeeding as the cultural norm, interventions targeting breastfeeding outcomes should consider social status, ethnicity, and cultural factors.

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