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Public Health Nutr. 2007 Sep;10(9):891-6. Epub 2007 Mar 7.

The impact of maternal employment on breast-feeding duration in the UK Millennium Cohort Study.

Author information

1
Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK. s.hawkins@ich.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the relationship of maternal employment characteristics, day care arrangements and the type of maternity leave pay to breast-feeding for at least 4 months.

DESIGN:

Cohort study.

SETTING:

Babies aged 9 months in the Millennium Cohort Study, born between September 2000 and January 2002.

SUBJECTS:

A total of 6917 British/Irish white employed mothers with singleton babies.

RESULTS:

Mothers employed part-time or self-employed were more likely to breast-feed for at least 4 months than those employed full-time (adjusted rate ratio (aRR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30 (1.17-1.44) and 1.74 (1.46-2.07), respectively). The longer a mother delayed her return to work postpartum, the more likely she was to breast-feed for at least 4 months (P for trend < 0.001). Mothers were less likely to breast-feed for at least 4 months if they returned to work for financial reasons (aRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.80-0.93) or used informal day care arrangements rather than care by themselves or their partner (aRR 0.81, 95% CI 0.71-0.91). Mothers were more likely to breastfeed for at least 4 months if their employer offered family-friendly (aRR 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.27) or flexible work arrangements (aRR 1.24, 95% CI 1.00-1.55), or they received Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) plus additional pay during their maternity leave rather than SMP alone (aRR 1.13, 95% CI 1.02-1.26). These findings were independent of confounding factors, such as socio-economic status and maternal education.

CONCLUSIONS:

Current policies may encourage mothers to enter or return to employment postpartum, but this may result in widening inequalities in breast-feeding and persistence of low rates. Policies should aim to increase financial support and incentives for employers to offer supportive work arrangements.

PMID:
17381907
DOI:
10.1017/S1368980007226096
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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