Failure to initiate breastfeeding among high risk obstetrical patients who intended to breastfeed

L. Cordero*, R. Oza-Frank, M. Moore-Clingenpeel, M.B. Landon, C.A. Nankervis | JNPM 2016;

BACKGROUND: In the US, at the time of discharge from the hospital, 79% of women had initiated breastfeeding. Intention to breastfeed is a strong predictor of breastfeeding initiation; however, we reported initiation failure in 45% of women with pregestational diabetes who intended to breastfeed. Information regarding intention and initiation among women with other high risk obstetrical conditions (HROB) remains scarce.
OBJECTIVE: To ascertain demographic and clinical factors associated with breastfeeding initiation failure among women with HROB conditions who intended to breastfeed.
METHODS: The study population is comprised of 89 women with diabetes (DM), 57 who were receiving treatment for substance abuse (SA), 51 women diagnosed with miscellaneous (MISC) conditions and 32 with history of preterm labor/delivery (PTL/D). Intention to exclusively breastfeed or in combination with formula (breastfed/FF) was ascertained prenatally. Breastfeeding was considered initiated if at discharge ≥50% of their infant feedings were maternal milk. Statistics include chi-square, Wilcoxon’s and logistic regression (p < 0.05).
RESULTS: Of all women, 59% initiated any breastfeeding. Intention to breastfeed/FF, lack of mother-infant contact during the first hour following birth and limited lactation consultation were predictive of initiation failure. The odds of initiation failure were 2.3 times higher among women who wished to breastfeed/FF as compared to those who wished to exclusively breastfeed. Women from the SA group had lower rates of initiation failure than the other three HROB groups.
CONCLUSION: Intention to breastfeed among women with diverse HROB conditions is similar to that of the general population; however, initiation rates are disappointingly low. Intention to exclusively breastfeed results in fewer initiation failures. Prenatal intention to combine breast and formula feeding characterize women who may benefit from specific educational programs.

*Corresponding Author: 

Leandro Cordero, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University Medical Center, N118 Doan Hall, 410W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1228, USA. Tel.: +1 614 293 8660; Fax: +1 614 293 7676; E-mail: