Public Release: 

Study examines impact of extended maternity leave on breastfeeding in active duty mothers

Pediatric Academic Societies

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TORONTO, May 5, 2018 - While there is no demonstrable difference in initiation of breastfeeding between six-week and 12-week maternity leave policies, there is a significant increase in breastfeeding duration and exclusivity through nine months for active duty mothers under the 12 week policy, according to a new study being presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2018 Meeting.

The study evaluated the effects of prolongation of maternity leave duration on the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in active duty mothers at a single military treatment facility. Secondary outcomes assessed infant and maternal health outcomes, branch-related impact and officer versus enlisted status.

Across 2014, active duty military mothers were allowed six weeks maternity leave. This was increased to 12 weeks in 2016. Breast milk and breastfeeding have significant medical, psychosocial and financial benefits for the mother-infant dyad with exclusive breastfeeding recommended for six months by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. Additional population target recommendations have been published for exclusivity and duration according to the Healthy People 2020 goal.

The retrospective cohort study utilized data collected from U.S. Department of Defense electronic healthcare records of infants born to active duty mothers delivered at a single site during calendar years 2014 and 2016. The study found no significant change in breastfeeding initiation occurred between the 2014 and 2016 groups. However, a significant increase in breastfeeding establishment was identified at the two (8.3 percent; p=0.013), four (12.7 percent; p=0.001), six (14 percent; p=0.001) and nine month (12.4 percent; p=0.002) visits in the 12 weeks leave cohort. Exclusive breastfeeding also increased significantly at two (8.1 percent; p=0.043), four (9.6 percent p=0.015) and six (7.5 percent; p=0.046) months and trended toward significance at nine months (6.1 percent; p=0.052).

Before this research, there were no studies evaluating military active duty breastfeeding prior and after implementation of extended maternity leave policies.

"This study was conducted to evaluate and validate existing knowledge about breastfeeding success in a military population," said Andrew Delle Donne, one of the authors of the study. "Similar to civilian studies, we found that longer duration of maternity leave increases breastfeeding success throughout the first year of life in a military population. The conclusions are important to justify increased maternity leave in the military population and provide additional support to conclusions made in civilian studies."

Mr. Delle Donne will present findings from "Impact of Extended Maternity Leave on Breastfeeding in Active Duty Mothers" during the PAS 2018 Meeting on Saturday, May 5 at 2:45 p.m. EDT. Reporters interested in an interview with Mr. Delle Donne should contact PAS2018@piercom.com.

Please note: Only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have additional data to share with media.

The PAS 2018 Meeting, taking place in Toronto on May 5-8, 2018, brings together thousands of pediatric scientists and other health care providers to improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information about the PAS 2018 Meeting, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org.

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About The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers united by a common mission: improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. This international gathering includes researchers, academics, as well as clinical care providers and community practitioners. Presentations cover issues of interest to generalists as well as topics critical to a wide array of specialty and sub-specialty areas. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four pediatric organizations that are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: American Pediatric Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Academic Pediatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org. Follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #PAS2018, or like us on Facebook.

PAS Media Contact:

(214) 217-7300
PAS2018@piercom.com

PAS Press Office (May 5-8, 2018):
(832) 371-6239

Abstract: Impact of Extended Maternity Leave on Breastfeeding in Active Duty Mothers

Background: Breastmilk and breastfeeding have significant medical, psychosocial, and financial benefits for the mother-infant dyad with exclusive breastfeeding recommended for 6 months by AAP and WHO. Additional population target recommendations have been published for exclusivity and duration according to the Healthy People 2020 goal. Across 2014, active duty military mothers were allowed 6 weeks maternity leave, this was increased to 12 weeks in 2016. There are no studies evaluating military active duty breastfeeding prior and after implementation of extended maternity leave policies.

Objective: To evaluate the effects of prolongation of maternity leave duration on the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in active duty mothers at a single military treatment facility. Secondary outcomes assessed infant and maternal health outcomes, branch related impact, and officer versus enlisted status.

Design/Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study utilizing data collected from DoD electronic healthcare records of infants born to active duty mothers delivered at a single site during calendar years 2014 and 2016.

Results: No significant change in breastfeeding initiation occurred between the 2014 and 2016 groups. However, a significant increase in breastfeeding establishment was identified at the two (8.3%; p=0.013), four (12.7%; p=0.001), six (14%; p=0.001), and nine month (12.4%; p=0.002) visits in the 12 weeks leave cohort. Exclusive breastfeeding also increased significantly at two (8.1%; p=0.043), four (9.6% p=0.015), and six (7.5%; p=0.046) months and trended toward significance at 9 months (6.1%; p=0.052).

Conclusion(s): While there is no demonstrable difference in initiation of breastfeeding between 6 week and 12 week maternity leave policies, there is a significant increase in breastfeeding duration and exclusivity through 9 months for active duty mothers under the 12 week policy. This data supports a potential prospective study to assess continued prolongation of maternity leave policy and duration of successful breastfeeding in an active duty military population.

Authors: Andrew Delle Donne, Alex Hatch, Nicholas Carr, Jonathan Shapiro

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