Breastfeeding initiation and duration through the COVID-19 pandemic, a linked population-level routine data study: the Born in Wales Cohort 2018-2021.

Publication date: Jul 01, 2023

The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. This study aimed to examine the impact the pandemic had on breastfeeding uptake and duration, and whether intention to breastfeed is associated with longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding. A cohort study using routinely collected, linked healthcare data from the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage databank. All women who gave birth in Wales between 2018 and 2021 recorded in the Maternal Indicators dataset were asked about intention to breastfeed. These data were linked with the National Community Child Health Births and Breastfeeding dataset to examine breastfeeding rates. Intention to breastfeed was associated with being 27. 6 times more likely to continue to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months compared with those who did not intend to breastfeed (OR 27. 6, 95% CI 24. 9 to 30. 7). Breastfeeding rates at 6 months were 16. 6% prepandemic and 20. 5% in 2020. When compared with a survey population, the initial intention to breastfeed/not breastfeed only changes for about 10% of women. Women were more likely to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months during the pandemic compared with before or after the pandemic. Arguably, interventions which enable families to spend more time with their baby such as maternal and paternal leave may help improve breastfeeding duration. The biggest predictor of breastfeeding at 6 months was intention to breastfeed. Therefore, targeted interventions during pregnancy to encourage motivation to breastfeed could improve duration of breastfeeding.

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Concepts Keywords
Breastfeeding Breast Feeding
Databank Child
Pandemic Cohort Studies
Wales COVID-19
Data Collection


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO population
disease VO time
disease MESH infections
disease MESH obesity
disease MESH asthma
pathway KEGG Asthma
drug DRUGBANK Methylergometrine
disease MESH ovarian cancers
disease MESH bleeding
disease MESH aids
disease MESH weight loss
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH education level
disease IDO infection
disease MESH stillbirths
disease VO pregnant women

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