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The impact of intrapartum analgesia on infant feeding

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To investigate the impact of intrapartum analgesia on infant feeding at hospital discharge. Design 

Retrospective cohort. Setting 

Maternity unit of a UK district general hospital. Population 

A random sample of 425 healthy primiparae delivering healthy singleton babies at term in 2000. Methods 

A random sample of primiparae delivering term neonates was identified from the birth register. We retrieved and analysed the corresponding joint midwifery/obstetric case notes. Main outcome measure 

Infant feeding method at discharge from hospital. Results 

Women [190/424 (45%)] were exclusively bottle feeding their babies at discharge from hospital. No one commenced breastfeeding after hospital discharge. Regression analysis revealed that the main determinants of bottle feeding were as follows: maternal age [odds ratio (OR) 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85–0.95 per year]; occupation (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.40–0.99 for each category, unemployed, manual, non-manual); antenatal feeding intentions (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.080–0.19 for each category, bottle feeding, undecided, breastfeeding); caesarean section (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.13–0.47, caesarean or vaginal delivery); and dose of fentanyl administered intrapartum (OR 1.004, 95% CI 1.000–1.008, 90% CI 1.001–1.007 for each microgram administered, range 8–500 g). Conclusions 

A dose–response relationship between fentanyl and artificial feeding has not been reported elsewhere. When well-established determinants of infant feeding are accounted for, intrapartum fentanyl may impede establishment of breastfeeding, particularly at higher doses.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Health Science, University of Wales, Swansea, UK 2: Singleton Hospital, Swansea, UK 3: European Business Management School, University of Wales, Swansea, UK

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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