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Prev Med. 2010 Nov;51(5):368-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.07.017. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

Effect of breastfeeding on weight retention from one pregnancy to the next: results from the North Carolina WIC program.

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Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



Pregnancy-related weight retention can contribute to obesity, and breastfeeding may facilitate postpartum weight loss. We investigated the effect of breastfeeding on long-term postpartum weight retention.


Using data from the North Carolina Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC; 1996-2004), weight retention was assessed in women aged 18 years or older who had more than one pregnancy available for analysis (n=32,920). Using multivariable linear regression, the relationship between duration of breastfeeding after the first pregnancy and change in pre-pregnancy weight from the first pregnancy to the second pregnancy was estimated, controlling for demographic and weight-related covariates.


Mean time between pregnancies was 2.8 years (standard deviation (SD) 1.5), and mean weight retention from the first to the second pregnancy was 4.9kg (SD 8.7). In covariate-adjusted analyses, breastfeeding for 20 weeks or more resulted in 0.39kg (standard error (SE) 0.18) less weight retention at the beginning of the second pregnancy relative to no breastfeeding (p=0.025).


In this large, racially diverse sample of low-income women, long-term weight retention was lower among those who breastfed for at least 20 weeks.

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