The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a Facilitator of Breastfeeding among a Nationally Representative Sample of Low Birth Weight Infants

Angela Campbell, Pennsylvania State University
Patricia Y. Miranda, Pennsylvania State University

77% of women in the United States initiate breastfeeding at some point with healthy infants. However, there is no data on breastfeeding rates among low birth weight (LBW) infants specifically. The objective of this study is twofold: 1) To describe a nationally representative sample of LBW infants and their breastfeeding behaviors; and 2) To investigate how number of days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is associated with the likelihood of LBW infants ever being breastfed. Results indicate that only 42% of low birth weight infants are ever breastfed. Additionally, infants who spend 0 days in the NICU and infants who spend more than 2 weeks in the NICU are 78% (p<.001) to 82% (p<.001) less likely to ever breast feed relative to infants who spend 1 day to 2 weeks in the NICU. Implications for the NICU as a place for breastfeeding interventions among LBW infants are discussed.

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 Presented in Session P7. Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families