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.