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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota Study Finds Mothers in Poorer Health Less Likely to Breastfeed

Pediatricians agree exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life provides a wealth of benefits to a mother and child. But new research from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota finds one-third of women enter pregnancy in poorer health, and are less likely to plan to breastfeed and less successful at exclusive breastfeeding when they do plan to breastfeed their babies. The study found women who are obese, have diabetes, or have hypertension were 30 percent less likely to intend to breastfeed than mothers without health complications.


[Photo: Dr. Katy Kozhimannil]

The study findings were published this week in PLOS ONE.

“Statistically we’re seeing an increase in breastfeeding in the U.S., which is great news. Unfortunately, at the same time, rates of obesity and other health problems are increasing. More than a million women each year enter pregnancy with a health problem, and our study shows that these mothers were less likely to plan to breastfeed,” said Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. “This is troubling because the families with social and medical risk factors are often those who stand to gain the most benefits from breastfeeding.”

This study used data from Listening to Mothers III, a national survey of 2,400 women who gave birth to a single baby in a U.S. hospital between 2011 and 2012. Women reported information about their childbirth experience, including their health conditions, breastfeeding intentions, and breastfeeding practices in the first week after their baby was born.

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