October 18, 2011
Supplementation of breast fed babies in hospital with infant formula
An Australian study has found that 23% of breast feeding mums supplemented their babies with infant formula while in hospital, despite the fact that this may impact negatively on breast feeding duration and exclusivity.
The study was undertaken in Victoria and South Australia. Women who gave birth in these states In September and October 2007 were mailed a questionnaire 6 months after giving birth. They were asked the question about how they fed their baby after birth while in hospital.
4,085 mums responded to the questionnaire. Of these, 59.3% breast fed only; 15.9% breast fed and expressed breast milk; 1.8% expressed breast milk only and 23% breast fed and supplemented with infant formula.
Breast fed babies were more likely to be supplemented with infant formula if:-
- they were the first born child
- the mother was over 35 years, overseas born and from a non english speaking background
- mother was obese - BMI>30
- mother had an emergency caesarean
- baby was admitted to a special care nursery
- baby had a birthweight of <2500g
- birth was in a hospital that was not an accredited Baby Friendly Hospital
The study shows that the reasons for supplementing with infant formula are complex. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) can assist hospitals in promoting exclusive breast feeding and minimising formula supplementation.
Birao MA, Sutherland GA et al. In-hospital formula supplementation of breastfed babies: A population- based survey. Birth - Issues in Perinatal care 38:4 December 2011 Wiley Periodicals Inc
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