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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jul;18(7):945-53. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.0998.

High pregnancy-related anxiety and prenatal depressive symptoms as predictors of intention to breastfeed and breastfeeding initiation.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Tufts University/Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts 01199, USA. Tarayn.Fairlie@bhs.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Perinatal mood disorders affect up to 20% of women in the United States. Little is known about how disorders in maternal mood may affect rates of breastfeeding.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the impact of prenatal depressive symptoms and high pregnancy-related anxiety on (1) prenatal intention to breastfeed and (2) breastfeeding initiation.

METHODS:

We prospectively followed 1436 pregnant women enrolled in the cohort study Project Viva. The main outcome measures were (1) mother's second trimester self-report of intention to use all or mostly formula in the first week of life and (2) failure to initiate breastfeeding. We defined prenatal depressive symptoms as a second trimester Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) score of > or =13 and high pregnancy-related anxiety as a "very much" response to three or more questions on a first trimester pregnancy anxiety scale.

RESULTS:

Of the 1436 participants, 9% (n = 125) had prenatal depressive symptoms indicative of depression, and 10% (n = 141) reported high pregnancy-related anxiety; 11% (n = 159) intended to give mostly or only formula in the first week of life, and 86% (n = 1242) initiated breastfeeding. In multivariate analyses, women with prenatal depressive symptoms (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.11, 3.33) and high pregnancy-related anxiety (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.12, 3.54) were roughly two times more likely than women without these mood disorders to plan to formula feed. However, neither prenatal depressive symptoms (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.61, 1.84) nor high pregnancy-related anxiety (OR 1.28, 95% CI 0.74, 2.20) was associated with failure to initiate breastfeeding.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a healthcare setting highly supportive of breastfeeding, women with prenatal depressive symptoms and possibly those with high pregnancy-related anxiety were less likely to plan prenatally to breastfeed, although this tendency did not translate into lower breastfeeding initiation rates.

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