Early Lactation and Infant Feeding Practices Differ by Maternal Gestational Diabetes History

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Abstract

Background:

Detailed data on lactation practices by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) history are lacking, precluding potential explanations and targets for interventions to improve lactation intensity and duration and, ultimately, long-term maternal and child health.

Objective:

This study aimed to examine breastfeeding practices through 12 months postpartum by GDM history.

Methods:

Women who delivered a singleton, liveborn infant at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus, OH), in 2011 completed a postal questionnaire to assess lactation and infant feeding practices and difficulties. Bivariate and multivariate associations between GDM history and lactation and infant feeding practices were examined.

Results:

The sample included 432 women (62% response rate), including 7.9% who had GDM during the index pregnancy. Women with GDM initiated breastfeeding (at-the-breast or pumping) as often as women without any diabetes but were more likely to report introduction of formula within the first 2 days of life (79.4% vs 53.8%, P < .01; adjusted odds ratio: 3.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.47-8.26). Women with GDM initiated pumping 4 days earlier than women without diabetes (P < .05), which was confirmed in adjusted analyses. There was no difference in the proportion of women reporting breastfeeding difficulty (odds ratio: 2.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.78-5.52). However, there was a trend toward women with GDM reporting more formula feeding and less at-the-breast feeding as strategies to address difficulty compared with women without diabetes.

Conclusion:

Additional research is needed to understand why women with GDM engage in different early lactation and infant feeding practices, and how best to promote and sustain breastfeeding among these women.

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