Which mothers wean their babies prematurely from full breastfeeding? An Australian cohort study


Amanda R Cooklin, Master of Women's Health, Key Centre for Women's Health in Society, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Level 2/723 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia. Tel: +61-3-8344-0717 | Fax: +61-3-9347-9824 | Email: a.cooklin@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au


Aim:  To identify the maternal and infant characteristics associated with an early transition from full breastfeeding to complementary or no breastfeeding during the first 2 months of life in a large, representative cohort of Australian infants.

Method:  Multinomial logistic modelling was performed on data for infants with complete breastfeeding and sociodemographic data (N = 4679) including maternal age, education, smoking, employment, pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Results:  Ninety-one percent of women initiated breastfeeding. Sixty-nine percent of infants were being fully breastfed at 1 month, and 59% were fully breastfed at 2 months. Maternal characteristics – age less than 25 years, smoking in pregnancy, early full-time postnatal employment and less educational attainment – were associated with early breastfeeding cessation. Infant factors – multiple birth, caesarean birth, infant or first birth – were associated with a transition to complementary breastfeeding in the first postnatal month.

Conclusion:  Breastfeeding duration is substantially affected by breastfeeding outcomes in the first postpartum month. The first month is an important window for evidence-based interventions to improve rates of full breastfeeding in groups of women identified as at risk of early breastfeeding cessation.