Objective: to investigate the influence of parental and infant characteristics on exclusive breast feeding horn birth to six months of age and breast feeding rates at two, six and 12 months of age in Ireland.
Methodology: secondary data analysis from the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study (http://www.baselinestudy.net/). Infants were seen at birth and two, six, and 12 months of age. Maternal and paternal history, neonatal course and feeding data were collected at birth and using parental questionnaires at each time point.
Participants: 1094 singleton infants of primiparous women recruited at 20 weeks' gestation who were breastfeeding on discharge from the maternity hospital.
Findings: at discharge from the maternity hospital and at two months, neonatal intensive-care unit admission had the strongest influence on exclusive breast feeding status (adjusted OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.07-0.41 at discharge) and at two months (adjusted OR = 0.20, 95% CI 0.05-0.83). A shorter duration of breast feeding was significantly associated with younger maternal age, non-tertiary education, Irish nationality and neonatal intensive-care unit admission. There was a significant difference in the duration of any breast feeding between infants who were and were not admitted to the neonatal intensive-care unit, 28(10.50, 32) weeks versus 32(27, 40) weeks. Mothers whose maternity leave was between seven and 12 months (adjusted OR = 2.76, 95% CI 1.51-5.05) breast fed for a longer duration compared to mothers who had less than six months of maternity leave.
Key conclusions: admission to the neonatal intensive care unit negatively influenced both exclusivity and duration of breast feeding. Length of maternity leave, and not employment status, was significantly associated with duration of breast feeding.
Implications for practice: additional support may be required to ensure continued breast feeding in infants admitted to the neonatal intensive-care unit. Length of maternity leave is a modifiable influence on breast feeding and offers the opportunity for intervention to improve our rates of breast feeding. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.