Objective: To identify the variables associated with breastfeeding duration.
Data sources: The health science reference databases of CINAHL, PubMed, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Study selection: Meta-analyses, Cochrane reviews, literature reviews, and quantitative and qualitative studies published in English from 1998 through 2008.
Data extraction: Data included all variables, both positive and negative, that were found to influence the outcome of breastfeeding duration.
Data synthesis: Demographic factors that influence breastfeeding duration are race, age, marital status, education, socioeconomics, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children status. Biological variables consisted of insufficient milk supply, infant health problems, maternal obesity, and the physical challenges of breastfeeding, maternal smoking, parity, and method of delivery. Social variables included paid work, family support, and professional support. Maternal intention, interest, and confidence in breastfeeding were psychological variables.
Conclusion: Human lactation is a complex phenomena and the duration of breastfeeding is influenced by many demographic, physical, social, and psychological variables.