Background: The propensity to breastfeed is not only of importance with regard to the beneficial effects on the individual, but is also of concern as an indicator of health behaviour related to social conditions. Thus, our aim was to investigate the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) on breastfeeding duration in mothers of preterm and term infants.
Methods: Prospective population based cohort study. Data for infants registered in breastfeeding databases of two Swedish counties 1993-2001 were matched with data from two national registries-the Medical Birth Registry and Statistics Sweden. A total of 37,343 mothers of 2093 preterm and 35,250 term infants participated.
Results: All socioeconomic factors; maternal educational level, maternal unemployment benefit, social welfare and equivalent disposable income, were strongly associated with breastfeeding when examined individually in mothers of preterm and term infants. Some of the associations attenuated when investigated simultaneously. Independently of SES and confounders, mothers of preterm infants were at higher risk of weaning before the infant was 2 months (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.70; 95% confidence interval ((CI) 1.46-1.99)), 4 months (OR 1.79; CI 1.60-2.01), 6 months (OR 1.48; CI 1.33-1.64), and 9 months old (OR 1.19; CI 1.06-1.34), compared with mothers of term infants.
Conclusions: In Sweden, despite its social welfare support system and a positive breastfeeding tradition, SES clearly has an impact on the breastfeeding duration. Mothers of preterm infants breastfeed for a shorter time compared with mothers of term infants, even when adjustments are made for SES and confounders.