Objective: To explore the prevalence of breast milk feeding (BMF) of infants with congenital heart defects (CHD) during first 6 months of life, as compared with general population.
Design: The study is based on a subsample of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by Norwegian Institute of Public Health. A total of 60 600 mothers completed a questionnaire about infant feeding at 6 months postpartum. Infants with moderate/severe CHD (n = 131) were identified using nationwide CHD registry. A group of infants with CHD with comorbidity was also defined (n = 65). BMF was classified as predominant, continued, or no BMF. Month to month feeding status was analysed by means of Cox regression analyses.
Results: Between child age 2–6 months, mothers of infants with CHD had a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.69 of weaning their child compared with mothers of controls. Mothers of infants with CHD with comorbidity weaned at an even faster rate (HR 3.54). At age 6 months, 9.9% of infants with CHD were fed with breast milk predominately, 64.1% continued to receive breast milk, and only 26% were fed no breast milk. For infants with CHD with comorbidity, corresponding percentages were 7.7%, 43.1% and 49.2%, respectively.
Conclusions: Although CHD alone and particularly CHD with comorbidity increased risk that mothers wean earlier, a relatively high rate of continued breastfeeding was maintained. Future studies should investigate factors that support continued BMF even in the most severely affected children with CHD.