Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Breastfeeding: Study Shows Women Entering Pregnancy in Poor Health Less Likely to Nurse

While much focus has been given to increasing breastfeeding education during the prenatal period, a new study suggests that how women enter pregnancy may be a stronger influencing factor. A new study from the University of Minnesota  School of Public Health showed that one-third of women entering pregnancy are in poor health and thirty percent less like to breastfeeding than someone without pre-existing conditions. And if they do, they often prematurely discontinue.


This new study  looked at 2,400 women who had given birth between 2011 and 2012. A third of the women participating suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure or was obese.


Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the School of Public Health, states “We also looked at statistically who are these women, and we found they were likely to be non-white, more likely to be low-income, to have lower education, unmarried and without a partner, and receiving public health insurance.”


Kozhimannil says she hopes the study’s findings will encourage the medical community to work harder to support pregnant women with challenges and “simple counseling women to breastfeed is not enough.”


“Telling women that it’s good for them and their babies is not enough, without adequate support as well. There might be special support that women with complex pregnancies need,”  says Kozhimannil.