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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Breastfeeding practices in a cohort of inner-city women: the role of contraindications

Lucinda England1*, Ruth Brenner1, Brinda Bhaskar2, Bruce Simons-Morton1, Abhik Das2, Mary Revenis3, Nitin Mehta4 and John Clemens5

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20895, USA

2 The Research Triangle Institute, Rockville, MD, 20852, USA

3 The Department of Neonatology, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, 20010, USA

4 The Division of Neonatology, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, 20007, USA

5 The International Vaccine Institute, Seoul, Korea

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BMC Public Health 2003, 3:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-3-28

Published: 20 August 2003

Abstract

Background

Little is known about the role of breastfeeding contraindications in breastfeeding practices. Our objectives were to 1) identify predictors of breastfeeding initiation and duration among a cohort of predominately low-income, inner-city women, and 2) evaluate the contribution of breastfeeding contraindications to breastfeeding practices.

Methods

Mother-infant dyads were systematically selected from 3 District of Columbia hospitals between 1995 and 1996. Breastfeeding contraindications and potential predictors of breastfeeding practices were identified through medical record reviews and interviews conducted after delivery (baseline). Interviews were conducted at 3–7 months postpartum and again at 7–12 months postpartum to determine breastfeeding initiation rates and duration. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify baseline factors associated with initiation of breastfeeding. Cox proportional hazards models were generated to identify baseline factors associated with duration of breastfeeding.

Results

Of 393 study participants, 201 (51%) initiated breastfeeding. A total of 61 women (16%) had at lease one documented contraindication to breastfeeding; 94% of these had a history of HIV infection and/or cocaine use. Of the 332 women with no documented contraindications, 58% initiated breastfeeding, vs. 13% of women with a contraindication. In adjusted analysis, factors most strongly associated with breastfeeding initiation were presence of a contraindication (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.08–0.47), and mother foreign-born (AOR, 4.90; 95% CI, 2.38–10.10). Twenty-five percent of study participants who did not initiate breastfeeding cited concern about passing dangerous things to their infants through breast milk. Factors associated with discontinuation of breastfeeding (all protective) included mother foreign-born (hazard ratio [HR], 0.55; 95% CI 0.39–0.77) increasing maternal age (HR for 5-year increments, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.69–0.92), and infant birth weight ≥ 2500 grams (HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.26–0.80).

Conclusions

Breastfeeding initiation rates and duration were suboptimal in this inner-city population. Many women who did not breastfeed had contraindications and/or were concerned about passing dangerous things to their infants through breast milk. It is important to consider the prevalence of contraindications to breastfeeding when evaluating breastfeeding practices in high-risk communities.