Background: This study compared the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of mothers using different infant feeding methods.
Methods: We used the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form (SF-36) to measure the HRQOL of 1,747 mothers and used the scores to look for associations with infant feeding methods (not breastfeeding, breastfeeding for <1 month, breastfeeding 1-5 months, and still breastfeeding at the 6th month). The mothers were chosen via a stratified sampling from the Taiwan national birth registration data between November and December 2003.
Results: HRQOL and breastfeeding duration were positively associated. Of the eight unadjusted domain scores of the SF-36, general health perception and mental health were significantly different among these four different infant feeding groups (P < 0.05). After controlling for potential confounding factors, mothers who breastfed for 6 months or longer had a higher HRQOL score than the other mothers. In addition, their physical functioning, general health perception and mental health scores were higher than those of mothers who did not breastfeed (P < 0.05). Mother's family income and parity and child's health status were also associated with mother's quality of life.
Conclusions: Compared to the other mothers, mothers who breastfed for six moths or longer had better HRQOL. However, the limitation that this study was cross-sectional in design should be considered and further studies are needed.