Aim: This study compared the diets of breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers from socioeconomically diverse regions of Melbourne to determine whether breastfeeding is a marker for healthier maternal dietary intakes.
Methods: This cross-sectional study obtained information via self-reported questionnaire from 529 first-time Melbourne mothers. Breastfeeding status was determined when the children were 3.9 months. Diet information was obtained using a validated Food Frequency Questionnaire. Maternal diet was assessed by seven indicators: average daily intake of fruit, vegetables, non-core drinks, non-core sweet snacks, non-core savoury snacks, variety of fruit and variety of vegetables eaten in the preceding 12 months. Associations between breastfeeding status and each dietary variable were assessed using linear regression analyses. Socioeconomic position, maternal body mass index and the cluster-based sampling design were controlled for.
Results: Of the 529 subjects, 70% were breastfeeding their child. Compared with non-breastfeeding mothers, breastfeeding mothers were found to consume more serves of vegetables (P= 0.001), a greater variety of fruit and vegetables (P= 0.001 and P≤ 0.001 respectively), and sweet snacks were consumed more frequently (P= 0.006). Differences were observed between low and high socioeconomic position mothers for fruit serves (P= 0.003), vegetable serves (P= 0.010) and fruit variety (P= 0.006). These associations persisted after controlling for socioeconomic position and maternal body mass index.
Conclusions: The association between infant feeding (breastfeeding) and some aspects of maternal diet provides further evidence suggesting a link between maternal and child diets from a younger age than previously examined.