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Factors associated with initiation and exclusive breastfeeding at hospital discharge: late preterm compared to 37 week gestation mother and infant cohort

Jennifer Ayton12*, Emily Hansen12, Stephen Quinn3 and Mark Nelson1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

2 Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

3 Flinders Clinical Effectiveness, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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International Breastfeeding Journal 2012, 7:16  doi:10.1186/1746-4358-7-16

Published: 26 November 2012



To investigate and examine the factors associated with initiation of, and exclusive breastfeeding at hospital discharge of, late preterm (34 0/7 - 36 6/7 weeks) compared to 37 week gestation (37 0/7 - 37 6/7 week) mother and baby pairs.


A retrospective population-based cohort study using a Perinatal National Minimum Data Set and clinical medical records review, at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmania, Australia in 2006.


Late preterm and 37 week gestation infants had low rates of initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, 31 (21.1%) and 61 (41.5%) respectively. After multiple regression analysis, late preterm infants were less likely to initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth (OR 0.3 95% CI 0.1, 0.7 p = 0.009) and were less likely to be discharged exclusively breastfeeding from hospital (OR 0.4 95% CI 0.1, 1.0 p = 0.04) compared to 37 week gestation infants.


A late preterm birth is predictive of breastfeeding failure, with late preterm infants at greater risk of not initiating breastfeeding and/or exclusively breastfeeding at hospital discharge, compared with those infants born at 37 weeks gestation. Stratifying breastfeeding outcomes by gestational age groups may help to identify those sub-populations at greatest risk of premature cessation of breastfeeding.

Exclusive breastfeeding; Initiation; Late preterm; Infant