Victims of violence stop breastfeeding sooner

March 09, 2016

More than two out of ten women who have been victims of sexual abuse as children are likely to stop breastfeeding before their babies reach four months, according to a new study.

In Norway, almost all mothers start with breastfeeding, and full breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life is recommended. Breast milk contains many antibodies and vitamins not found in infant formula. The emotional intimacy of breastfeeding is important for both mother and child. Breastfeeding is also good for the mother's health.

But some mothers stop breastfeeding early.

Of the women who have been victims of violence in the past 12 months, 40 per cent are more likely to stop breastfeeding before the baby is four months old.

Women who have been exposed to several types of violence, such as sexual and physical abuse, have an almost 50 per cent greater chance of stopping breastfeeding than those who have not been exposed to violence.

Violence has long-lasting effect

Studies on the relationship between breastfeeding and violence are sparse, but now one of the largest studies internationally has been published about the relationship between violence and lactation.

PhD candidate Marie Flem Sørbø of NTNU's Department of Public Health and General Practice carried out the study.

"It's important to be aware of the factors that promote breastfeeding, and what causes some women to choose to stop breastfeeding early," she says.

Breach of trust leaves deep scars

Flem Sørbø has also looked at the relationship between violence women have been subjected to as children and how that can affect breastfeeding as an adult.

"I was surprised that the violence a woman endured as a child would impact breastfeeding so strongly," she said.

Among her findings:

Almost two out of ten women are victims of violence

Flem Sørbø used the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which involved 95 200 women and was conducted from 1999 to 2008. She used the responses of 53 934 women. Of these, 19 per cent of the women reported that they had been subjected to violence as an adult, and 18 per cent reported that they had been subjected to violence as children.

"It's important for people in general to understand what can influence mothers to stop breastfeeding. But it's especially important for primary physicians, midwives, nurses and gynaecologists who work with pregnant women and mothers. Then they can be more aware and provide better support, so that more women abuse survivors continue to breastfeed," says Flem Sørbø.

All pregnant women will be asked about violence

In 2015, the Norwegian Directorate of Health implemented new guidelines for maternity care. Now all midwives, doctors and nurses ask pregnant women whether they have been exposed to violence. This information is important for detecting postpartum depression and to help more women to breastfeed.
-end-
Marie Flem Sørbø is also a physician in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ålesund Hospital in Møre og Romsdal county.

Reference:

Marie Flem Sørbø, Mirjam Lukasse, Anne-Lise Brantsæter, Hilde Grimstad. Past and recent abuse is associated with early cessation of breast feeding: results from a large prospective cohort in Norway. BMJ Open 2015;5. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009240

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.