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Peers May Strongly Influence Breast-Feeding Duration

Moms in new parent groups appear to be swayed by breast-feeding duration of other members

MONDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Attendance at groups for first-time parents where peers breast-feed infants of a similar age appears to strongly influence whether mothers continue breast-feeding to six months, according to research published online Aug. 2 in Pediatrics.

Adrian James Cameron, Ph.D., of Deakin University in Burwood, Australia, and colleagues analyzed data from 501 mothers in 62 parent groups. The parent groups were identified as those in which 25 percent or less had stopped breast-feeding by six weeks (low-cessation groups), and those in which more than 25 percent had stopped breast-feeding at six weeks (high-cessation groups). The researchers aimed to investigate what influence the proportion of breast-feeding mothers in first-time parent groups had on likelihood of cessation of breast-feeding, and if that effect was independent of socioeconomic status.

After excluding mothers who had stopped breast-feeding by six weeks, the researchers found a higher proportion of mothers who stopped breast-feeding between six weeks and six months in the high-cessation groups than the low-cessation groups (37.4 versus 21.7 percent). After adjusting for such characteristics as employment, body mass index, age, education, and area-level socioeconomic status, ceasing breast-feeding earlier than six months was strongly related to membership in a group where a high proportion of mothers had stopped breast-feeding by six weeks (odds ratio, 2.1).

"Attendance at parent groups where peers are breast-feeding infants of a similar age may have an important influence on the continuation of breast-feeding to six months. First-time parent groups or other similar groups may be an important setting in which to promote the continuation of breast-feeding," the authors write.

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