Advertisement

The effect of employment status on breastfeeding in the United States

      Background

      In the United States, more new mothers are part of the work force than ever before. This trend has implications for many child-rearing practices, including breastfeeding.

      Methods

      Based on a national sample of new mothers (n = 228,000), this study considered the prevalence of the initiation and duration of breastfeeding to 6 months after delivery in 2003 among women who were employed full time, who worked part time, or who were not employed outside the home. Breastfeeding trends since 1984 were also considered.

      Results

      In 2003, at the national level, the prevalence of the initiation of breastfeeding and breastfeeding to 6 months after delivery were 66.0% and 32.8%, respectively. In the hospital, mothers who worked part time had a significantly (p <0.05) higher rate of breastfeeding (68.8%) than those who were employed full time (65.5%), or who were not employed (64.8%). Working full time had a (p <0.05) negative effect on breastfeeding duration. By 6 months after delivery, 26.1% of mothers employed full time, 36.6% of mothers working part time, and 35.0% of nonworking mothers breastfed their infant. Mothers who were not employed were more than twice as likely to breastfeed at 6 months than mothers who worked full time. Breastfeeding trends since 1984 indicated a large increase in the rate of breastfeeding at 6 months after delivery among full-time working mothers (204.5%). However, rates for these women have not yet reached those of mothers who worked part time or were not employed.

      Conclusions

      To ensure that the Healthy People 2010 goals for breastfeeding are achieved (75% in the hospital and 50% at 6 months), programs designed to support working mothers who choose to breastfeed must be continued and strengthened.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Women's Health Issues
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Allen L.H.
        • Pelto G.H.
        Research on determinants of breastfeeding duration: suggestions for biocultural studies.
        Medical Anthropology. 1985; 9: 97-105
        • American Academy of Pediatrics
        Policy statement.
        Pediatrics. 1997; 115: 496-506
        • Arthur C.R.
        • Saenz R.B.
        • Replogle W.H.
        The employment-related breastfeeding decisions of physician mothers.
        Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. 2003; 44: 383-387
        • Auerbach K.G.
        • Guss E.
        Maternal employment and breastfeeding.
        American Journal of Diseases of Children. 1984; 138: 958-960
        • Ball T.M.
        • Bennett D.M.
        The economic impact of breastfeeding.
        Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2001; 48: 253-262
        • Bentley M.E.
        • Caulfield L.E.
        • Gross S.M.
        • Bronner Y.
        • Jensen J.M.
        • Kessler L.A.
        • et al.
        Sources of influence on intention to breastfeed among African-American women at entry to WIC.
        Journal of Human Lactation. 1999; 15: 27-34
        • Cohen R.
        • Mrtek M.B.
        • Mrtek R.G.
        Comparison of maternal absenteeism and infant illness rates among breast-feeding and formula-feeding women in two corporations.
        American Journal of Health Promotion. 1995; 10: 148-153
        • Dietrich II, F.H.
        • Kearns J.T.
        Basic Statistics: An Inferential Approach. (3rd ed). Dellan Publishing Co, San Francisco, CA1989
      1. Family Medical Leave Act, Title 29, Part 825. 1993;
        • Fairbank L.
        • O’Meara S.
        • Renfrew M.J.
        • Woolridge M.
        • Snowden A.J.
        • Lister-Sharp D.
        A systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to promote the initiation of breastfeeding.
        Health Technology Assessment. 2000; 4: 1-171
        • Fein S.B.
        • Roe B.
        The effect of work status on initiation and duration of breast-feeding.
        American Journal of Public Health. 1998; 88: 1042-1046
      2. Good for babies. Good for moms. Good for business.
        Working Mother. 2005; 47 (July/August).
        • Grummer-Strawn L.M.
        • Li R.
        U.S. national surveillance of breastfeeding behavior.
        Journal of Human Lactation. 2000; 16: 283-290
        • Guttman N.
        • Zimmerman D.R.
        Low-income mothers’ views on breastfeeding.
        Social Science & Medicine. 2000; 50: 1457-1473
        • Haider S.J.
        • Jacknowitz A.
        • Schoeni R.F.
        Welfare work requirements and child well-being: Evidence from the effects on breast-feeding.
        Demography. 2003; 40: 479-497
        • Hediger M.L.
        • Overpeck M.D.
        • Ruan W.J.
        • Troendle J.F.
        Early infant feeding and growth status of US-born infants and children aged 4–71 mo: analyses from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994.
        American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000; 72: 159-167
        • Kennedy K.I.
        • Visness C.M.
        A comparison of two U.S. surveys of infant feeding.
        Journal of Human Lactation. 1997; 13: 39-43
        • Li R.
        • Darling N.
        • Maurice E.
        • Barker L.
        • Grummer-Strawn L.M.
        Breastfeeding rates in the United States by characteristics of the child, mother, or family: The 2002 National Immunization Survey.
        Pediatrics. 2005; 115: 31-37
        • Lindberg L.D.
        Trends in the relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum employment in the United States.
        Social Biology. 1996; 43: 191-202
        • Meek J.Y.
        Breastfeeding in the workplace.
        Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2001; 48: 461-474
        • Munson M.L.
        • Sutton P.D.
        Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for 2003. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD2004
        • Oliveira V.
        WIC and breastfeeding rates.
        Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report. 2003; 34: 1-2
        • Ortiz J.
        • McGilligan K.
        • Kelly P.
        Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer-sponsored lactation program.
        Pediatric Nursing. 2004; 30: 111-119
        • Roe B.
        • Whittington L.A.
        • Fein S.B.
        • Teisl M.F.
        Is there competition between breastfeeding and maternal employment?.
        Demography. 1999; 36: 157-171
        • Ryan A.S.
        The resurgence of breastfeeding in the United States.
        Pediatrics. 1997; 99 (Available: www.pediatrics.org. Accessed.)
        • Ross Products Division
        • Abbott Laboratories
        Business Backs Breastfeeding: A Flexible Workplace Program for Breastfeeding Mothers. Ross Products Division, Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH2003 (Available: www.ross.com.)
        • Ryan A.S.
        • Pratt W.F.
        • Wysong J.L.
        • Lewandowski G.
        • McNally J.W.
        • Krieger F.W.
        A comparison of breast-feeding data from the National Surveys of Family Growth and the Ross Laboratories Mothers Survey.
        American Journal of Public Health. 1991; 81: 1049-1052
        • Ryan A.S.
        • Rush D.
        • Krieger F.W.
        • Lewandowski G.E.
        Recent declines in breast-feeding in the United States, 1984 through 1989.
        Pediatrics. 1991; 88: 719-727
        • Ryan A.S.
        • Zhou W.
        Lower breastfeeding rates persist among the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children participants, 1978–2003.
        Pediatrics. 2006; 117: 1136-1146
        • Ryan A.S.
        • Zhou W.
        • Acosta A.
        Breastfeeding continues to increase into the new millennium.
        Pediatrics. 2002; 110: 1103-1109
        • Ryan A.S.
        • Zhou W.
        • Gaston M.H.
        Regional and sociodemographic variation of breastfeeding in the United States, 2002.
        Clinical Pediatrics. 2004; 43: 815-824
        • SAS
        Software for Analysis for Statistical Data: User’s Manual Release 7.0. Research Triangle Institute, Triangle Park, NC1996
        • Shealy K.R.
        • Li R.
        • Benton-Davis S.
        • Grummer-Strawn L.M.
        The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta2005
        • Taveras E.M.
        • Capra A.M.
        • Braveman P.A.
        • Jensvold N.G.
        • Escobar G.J.
        • Lieu T.A.
        Clinician support and psychosocial risk factors associated with breastfeeding discontinuation.
        Pediatrics. 2003; 112: 108-115
        • Taveras E.M.
        • Li R.
        • Grummer-Strawn L.M.
        • Richardson M.
        • Marshall R.
        • Rego V.H.
        • et al.
        Opinions and practices of clinicians associated with continuation of exclusive breastfeeding.
        Pediatrics. 2004; 113: e283-e290
        • Tuttle C.R.
        An open letter to the WIC program: The time has come to commit to breastfeeding.
        Journal of Human Lactation. 2000; 16: 99-103
        • US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service
        About WIC. 2005; (Available: www.fns.usda.gov/wic. Accessed.)
        • US Department of Health and Human Services
        Healthy People 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Secretary of Health, Washington, DC2000
        • US Department of Health and Human Services
        • National Center for Health Statistics
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
        Technical Appendix from Vital Statistics of the United States 2001 Natality. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD2003
        • US Department of Labor
        • Bureau of Labor Statistics
        Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2002. 2002; (Available: www.bis.gov. Accessed.)
        • US Department of Agriculture
        • Food and Nutrition Service
        Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Program Participation 2005. 2005; (Available: www.fns.usda.gov. Accessed.)
        • Visness C.M.
        • Kennedy K.I.
        Maternal employment and breastfeeding: Findings from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey.
        American Journal of Public Health. 1997; 87: 945-950

      Biography

      Dr. Alan S. Ryan is an anthropologist and Director of Clinical Research at Martek Biosciences Corporation. His primary interests include infant feeding practices, growth and development, and nutrition.

      Biography

      Mr. Zhou is a senior statistician with expertise in large survey sampling and weighting techniques. His primary interests include statistical modeling and forecasting.

      Biography

      Dr. Mary Beth Arensberg is a registered dietitian with interests in infant nutrition and nutrition and health policy across the age spectrum.