Few studies have examined the impact of past and recent abuse on breastfeeding behaviors. A recent study indicates that exposure to emotional, sexual or physical abuse (past or recent) is associated with earlier cessation of breastfeeding.

This study included 53,934 mothers participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study who responded to questionnaires at three time points (weeks 18 and 30 in pregnancy, and 6 months postpartum).

Overall, 19% of the women reported a history of adult abuse, and 18% reported a history of child abuse.

Nearly all of the women initiated breastfeeding. 12.1% of the women stopped before 4 months, and 38.9% stopped exclusive breastfeeding before 4 months.

Both past and recent abuse were strongly associated with early cessation of breastfeeding. Women exposed to three types of adult abuse (emotional, sexual, and physical) were the most likely to stop breastfeeding early with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.47 (95% CI, 1.23 to 1.76) as compared to women with no abuse history. The observed increase in early breastfeeding cessation was observed independently of depression history, postpartum depression, and other potential confounding factors.

 

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

 

Sorbo MF, Lukasse M, Brantsaeter AL, Grimstad H. Past and recent abuse is associated with early cessation of breast feeding: results from a large prospective cohort in Norway. BMJ. 2015 Dec 18.