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Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct;104(10):2517-23. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.362. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

A population-based study of breastfeeding in inflammatory bowel disease: initiation, duration, and effect on disease in the postpartum period.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Health Sciences Centre, 804F-715 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E3P4, Canada.



We aimed to assess breastfeeding practices and the impact of breastfeeding on disease flare during the postpartum year in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


Women of childbearing age from 1985 to 2005 were identified from the University of Manitoba IBD Research Registry. Questionnaires were completed regarding pregnancy and the postpartum period. Data for initiation and duration of breastfeeding were compared with population-based regional data.


Of 204 eligible women, 132 (64.7%) responded to the survey, yielding information on 156 births. Breastfeeding was initiated in 83.3% of women with IBD (n=132), 81.9% of Crohn's disease patients (CD, n=90), and 84.2% of ulcerative colitis patients (UC, n=39) vs. 77.1 % in the general population (P>0.05 for all). Of women with IBD, 56.1% breastfed for >24 weeks vs. 44.4% of controls (P=0.02). The rate of disease flare in the postpartum year was 26% for those who breastfed vs. 29.4% in those who did not (P=0.76) in CD and 29.2% vs. 44.4% (P=0.44) in UC. The odds ratio of disease flare postpartum for those who breastfed vs. those who did not was 0.58 (95% CI: 0.24-1.43), 0.84 (0.19-9.87), and 0.51 (0.12-2.2) for IBD total, CD, and UC, respectively. Risk of disease flare was not related to age at pregnancy, duration of disease, or socioeconomic status.


Women with IBD are as likely as the general population to breastfeed their infants. Breastfeeding is not associated with an increased risk of disease flare and may even provide a protective effect against disease flare in the postpartum year.

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