Unhealthy Mothers Less Likely to Breastfeed, Study


Pregnant women in poor health are 30 percent less likely to breastfeed than those without any health complication, according to a study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The researchers said that one-third of pregnant women are in poor health. Even if these women start breastfeeding, they are more likely to abandon it after some time.

Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, said that breastfeeding enhances baby's immune system, burns more calories and lowers the risk of developing certain cancers. There is also growing evidence of lower rates of infection, asthma, allergies and obesity in children.

For the study, the researchers observed 2,400 women across the country who gave birth between 2011 and 2012. They found that about a third of these women were either suffering from obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure.

"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 said, cbslocal reports.

Kozhimannil said that lack of a good support system makes these women less motivated to breastfeed.

"These are a population of people who have a variety of challenges in their lives as they go into pregnancy and move forward. It's also a time when a lot of people can learn to overcome their challenges and build a better and healthier life for themselves and their families," Kozhimannil said.

Kozhimannil hopes that the findings will inspire medical community to support pregnant women with challenges. She also urges new mothers to take advantage of health reforms that helps them learn how to breastfeed after leaving hospital at no cost.

"Simply counselling women to breastfeed is not enough," Kozhimannil said. "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."

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