Background: Breastfeeding has many established health benefits for women and children. We examined the association between maternal education, newborn feeding in hospital, and long-term breastfeeding duration.
Methods: We studied 3195 Canadian mother-infant dyads in the CHILD pregnancy cohort. Newborn feeding was documented from hospital records. Caregivers reported sociodemographic factors and infant feeding at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months.
Results: Overall, 97% of newborns initiated breastfeeding and 74% were exclusively breastfed in hospital. Exclusively breastfed newborns were ultimately breastfed longer compared with those who received formula supplementation during their hospital stay (median 11.0 vs 7.0 months, P < .001). After controlling for maternal age, ethnicity, birth mode, and gestational age, exclusively breastfed newborns had a 21% reduced risk of breastfeeding cessation (HR = 0.79, 0.71-0.87). This effect was strongest among women without a postsecondary education (HR = 0.65, 0.53-0.79).
Discussion: Exclusive breastfeeding in hospital is associated with longer breastfeeding duration, particularly among women of lower socioeconomic status. Initiatives that support exclusive breastfeeding of newborns in hospital could improve long-term breastfeeding rates and help reduce health inequities arising in early life.
Keywords: breastfeeding exclusivity and duration; hospital practices; maternal-child health equity; newborn feeding; perinatal care.
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