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Heavier Women Tend to Stop Breast-Feeding Sooner

Pre-pregnancy body mass index associated with breast-feeding duration

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The higher a woman's body mass index before she becomes pregnant, the earlier she is likely to stop breast-feeding her baby, even in social settings where breast-feeding is strongly encouraged, according to the results of a large Danish study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Jennifer L. Baker, Ph.D., of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and colleagues analyzed medical data and telephone interviews from 37,459 women who participated in the Danish National Birth Cohort. Pre-pregnancy height and weight and duration of breast-feeding were self-reported.

By the end of the first week after delivery, 14.4 percent of women in the highest obesity category (body mass index equal to or greater than 40) had stopped breast-feeding, compared to 3.5 percent of normal-weight women (body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9). This association was maintained at 16- and 20-weeks postpartum. The proportion of women who continued full or partial breast-feeding decreased with increasing pre-pregnancy body mass index.

"The clear implication of these findings is that women should begin pregnancy at a healthy weight, although it is unknown whether it matters for the success of breast-feeding how women achieve this goal," the authors conclude.

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