Work-place predictors of duration of breastfeeding among female physicians

J Pediatr. 2013 Dec;163(6):1612-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.07.026. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


Objective: To identify work-related predictors of breastfeeding duration among female physicians.

Study design: Data on 238 children were obtained from 50 female physicians, whose main affiliation was with Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), and 80 female physicians, whose main affiliation was with the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL). We used a mixed linear model to determine which variables were significant predictors of breastfeeding duration when controlling for maternal demographics and taking into account the clustering of observations on study location and mothers.

Results: Although female physicians intended to breastfeed 56% of the infants for at least 12 months and 97% of infants were breastfed at birth, only 34% of infants continued to receive breast milk at 12 months. Duration of lactation among female physicians correlated with the following work-related factors: (1) not having to make up missed call/work that occurred as result of pregnancy or maternity leave; (2) longer length of maternity leave; (3) sufficiency of time at work for milk expression; and (4) perceived level of support for breastfeeding efforts at work from colleagues, program director, or division/section chiefs.

Conclusion: Our findings support the importance of work-related factors in breastfeeding maintenance among female physicians and suggest that a tailored intervention, providing time and institutional encouragement, might result in significant improvement in their breastfeeding duration.

Keywords: BF; Breastfeeding; JHU; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; MW; Milk expression at work; PI; Principal investigator; UF; University of Florida College of Medicine.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Women*
  • Time Factors
  • Workplace*