05:23pm Tuesday 22 October 2019

What influences how long mothers fully breast-feed?


breast-feedingAt four months of age 87 percent of the children were breast-fed, but only 44 percent were predominantly breast-fed. This was the prevalence of full and partial breast-feeding among participants in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) during 2002 – 2005.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that infants should be fully breast-fed, i.e. exclusively receiving breast milk, until they are six months old. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the National Resource Centre for Breast-feeding at Rikshospitalet University Hospital aimed to examine if selected health service-related factors were associated with earlier cessation of full breast-feeding.

“In order to promote full breast-feeding and to support mothers who are breast-feeding, it is important to know what can influence how long mothers fully breast-feed their children” said the researchers.

In a study involving 29 621 mother-child pairs in MoBa researchers examined the relationship between selected health-service related factors during and immediately after birth, and the risk of cessation of full breast-feeding at different time intervals. The mothers answered questions about their children’s nutrition in the first week of life, and every month until six months of age.

Researchers found an increased risk of mothers ceasing to fully breast-feed their child by one month of age and between one to three months of age: 

  • if the child had received infant formula, sugar water or plain water in the first week of life 
  • if the child was delivered by Caesarean section 
  • if the mother had breast-feeding problems for which health personnel were contacted during the first month after birth

The use of different supplements in the first week of life may indicate that the mother had delayed milk production, or that the child was restless. Supplementation during the first week may disturb the normal lactation physiology, and lead to reduced milk production.

The results support a restrictive approach to supplementation during the first week of life. Providing appropriate guidance, support and follow-up may be important to achieve longer duration of full breast-feeding.


Haggkvist AP, Brantsaeter AL, Grjibovski AM, Helsing E, Meltzer HM & Haugen M. Prevalence of breast-feeding in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and health service-related correlates of cessation of full breast-feeding. Public Health Nutr. 2010 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1017/S1368980010001771

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