Does maternal obesity adversely affect breastfeeding initiation and duration?

J Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Oct;36(5):482-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2000.00562.x.


Objective: To examine the relationship between maternal obesity and the initiation and duration of breastfeeding.

Methods: Analysis was made of the 1995 National Health Survey, in which personal interviews were conducted on a multistage area sample of private dwellings and a list sample of non-private dwellings in all states and territories of Australia. Mothers between the ages of 17 and 50 years (n = 1991) with children under the age of 4 years in 1995 participated in the study.

Results: Of the group of mothers with a body mass index (BMI) of 20-25, 89.2% (95% confidence interval (CI) 87.4-91.0) initiated breastfeeding, compared with 82.3% (95% CI 77.6-87.0) of mothers with a BMI of 30 or more. There was also a significant difference between the mean and median duration of breastfeeding of obese and non-obese mothers (BMI 30 and over, < 25, respectively). These differences remained significant when maternal smoking, age and other sociodemographic factors were taken into consideration.

Conclusions: Health professionals should be aware that obese women may be at increased risk of not breastfeeding or stopping breastfeeding prematurely.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers*
  • Obesity*
  • Time Factors