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Hospital Practices that Increase Breastfeeding Duration: Results from a Population-Based Study

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Background: A high percentage (83%) of mothers in Colorado initiate breastfeeding; but in keeping with national breastfeeding trends, many of them discontinue breastfeeding within the first few months. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of hospital practices on breastfeeding duration and whether the effects differed based on maternal socioeconomic status. Methods: Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data were used to calculate breastfeeding duration rates for all Colorado mothers in 2002 to 2003. Breastfeeding duration rates were determined for recipients of each of nine hospital practices included in the survey compared with rates for nonrecipients. Practices that significantly increased breastfeeding duration rates were combined and then stratified by socioeconomic status. Results: Breastfeeding duration was significantly improved when mothers experienced all five specific hospital practices: breastfeeding within the first hour, breastmilk only, infant rooming-in, no pacifier use, and receipt of a telephone number for use after discharge. Two-thirds (68%; 95% CI: 61–75) of mothers who experienced all five successful practices were still breastfeeding at 16 weeks compared with one-half (53%; 95% CI: 49–56) of those who did not. Breastfeeding duration was improved independent of maternal socioeconomic status. Only one in five mothers (18.7%) experienced all five supportive hospital practices. Mothers who experienced the five supportive hospital practices were significantly less likely to stop breastfeeding due to any of the top reasons given for stopping (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Implementation of the five hospital practices supportive of breastfeeding significantly increased breastfeeding duration rates regardless of maternal socioeconomic status. (BIRTH 34:3 September 2007)

Keywords: Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative; breastfeeding; breastfeeding duration; hospital practices

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Sue Ricketts is a Maternal and Child Health Demographer, Center for Healthy Families and Communities, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver 2: Jennifer Dellaport is a Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator, Colorado Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Publication date: September 1, 2007


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