Impact of NICU admission on Colorado-born late preterm infants: breastfeeding initiation, continuation and in-hospital breastfeeding practices

J Perinatol. 2018 May;38(5):557-566. doi: 10.1038/s41372-018-0042-x. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Objective: Compare breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates, and in-hospital breastfeeding practices, of late preterm infants (LPIs) cared for in a NICU versus those cared for exclusively in the nursery (non-NICU).

Study design: Using data from the 2009-2014 Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), breastfeeding initiation, continuation, and in-hospital breastfeeding practices of NICU versus non-NICU LPIs (34 0/7 to 36 6/7 weeks gestation, n = 20,767) were analyzed, and multivariate models were created controlling for maternal and infant characteristics.

Results: Mothers of NICU LPIs were equally likely to initiate breastfeeding (APR 1.0; 95% CI 0.95-1.06) but less likely to continue breastfeeding at 10 weeks (APR 0.86; 95% CI 0.76-0.99) compared to mothers of non-NICU LPIs. Mothers of NICU LPIs were less likely to breastfeed in the hospital, less likely to be told to feed infants on demand, and more likely to be given a breast pump during hospitalization.

Conclusions: There are significant differences in both breastfeeding continuation and several in-hospital breastfeeding practices for NICU versus non-NICU LPIs. Further research is needed so that targeted policies and programs can be developed to improve breastfeeding rates in this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Colorado
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / organization & administration*
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult