Breast-feeding plays second fiddle to work, study finds

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Research now shows what a mother already knows -- that the demands of her job have a direct impact on how long and how often she breast-feeds.

Working women make fundamental decisions about breast-feeding based on when they go back to their jobs, said Brian Roe, an assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State University and study co-author.

"There is competition between breast-feeding and employment," he said. "In our study, the women who worked full-time represented the lowest percentage of breast-feeders, while the women working one to nine hours per week breast-fed most frequently."

The research appeared in a recent issue of the journal Demography.

Roe and his colleagues surveyed 712 women who planned to return to work within 12 months of giving birth. Each mother was asked to complete 11 questionnaires at various times throughout late pregnancy until 12 months postpartum. The researchers used data from the surveys to calculate the duration of both breast-feeding and leave from work. They also compared daily work hours and breast-feedings at infant ages three and six months. Breast-feedings also included breast milk expressed from the mother and fed to the infant by a bottle.

About half (54 percent) of the women who returned to full-time wor

Contact: Brian Roe
Ohio State University

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