Association between early-term birth and breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity: A systematic review


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Abstract

BackgroundInfants born early-term, between 37 weeks, 0 days and 38 weeks, 6 days of gestation, are more likely to have adverse health outcomes and to undergo interventions that could pose barriers to breastfeeding. The objectives of this review are to examine the effect of early-term birth on breastfeeding initiation and the duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding.MethodsWe systematically searched PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), EMBASE, and Scopus, from January 2007 to June 2017, for studies examining the associations between early-term birth and rates of breastfeeding initiation and the duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding.ResultsNine studies were included in the review, of which four assessed breastfeeding initiation rates, eight assessed any breastfeeding duration and two assessed exclusive breastfeeding duration. Two studies found that early-term birth was associated with a lower rate of breastfeeding initiation and five studies reported an association between early-term birth and breastfeeding cessation. One study found that early-term birth was associated with a shorter duration of exclusive breastfeeding.ConclusionAlthough the majority of the reviewed studies reported that early-term infants were less likely to be breastfed and were more likely to be breastfed for a shorter duration, study quality varied and the duration of follow-up was short. Further research with longer follow-up would be beneficial to better understand the effect of early-term birth on breastfeeding.

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