Objective: To investigate the practice of breastfeeding and related difficulties in children born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with cleft lip, cleft palate, and cleft lip with cleft palate.
Design: Cohort, observational, and population-based study.
Population and sample: Mothers of all children born in 2001 and 2002 with cleft lip and palate in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil (n = 31), were interviewed in their homes. From the information collected, the frequencies of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding in the first year of life were estimated and the median duration was computed according to the type of cleft. A descriptive analysis was used to study the difficulties. MAIN INDICATORS: Initiation rate, pattern, duration, and difficulties of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding.
Results: The initiation rate of breastfeeding was 100% and its median duration was 42.5 days. Exclusive breastfeeding was initiated by 67.7% of the sample and maintained for 15 days (median). The breastfeeding duration was significantly higher in the presence of cleft lip, being equal or even superior to (in the case of exclusive breastfeeding) the median of Porto Alegre's general population. The most frequently mentioned difficulties were weak suction, difficulty attaching to the breast, and breast milk escaping through the nostrils.
Conclusions: In spite of the diverse difficulties reported and the lack of professional support after discharge from the maternity wards, the initiation rate and the duration of breastfeeding of children with cleft lip and palate found in this study reinforce the theory that this malformation, especially cleft lip, is compatible with successful breastfeeding.