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Study of Breastfeeding Difficulties Due to Obesity Informs Need for Targeted Interventions for Better Breastfeeding Outcomes

Typically, within 50 to 72 hours of giving birth, a woman will begin to secrete copious milk in a process called lactogenesis II. Infants of mothers who want to breastfeed but who have delayed lactogenesis II experience excessive weight loss and therefore are at high risk for formula supplementation.

A study led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Diane Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, the Helen M. Shearer Term Professor of Nutrition, has found that delayed lactogenesis was more prevalent among women who were obese pre-pregnancy and that excessive gestational weight gain was also associated with a delay in lactogenesis II. The study has been published in the Journal of Human Lactation.

“Because nearly one in four women in the United States begins pregnancy with a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30, the study underscores the need for targeted interventions and support to help these women achieve their personal breastfeeding goals,” explains Spatz.

The study further suggests the need for additional research to discover the factors for breastfeeding difficulties in women with pre-pregnancy obesity. Co-authors include: Irma Preusting, MD of the University of Florida and University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands; and Jessica Brumley, PhD, CNM; Judette M. Louis, MD, MPH; and Linda Odibo, RN, BSc, MN, all of the University of Florida.