Breastfeeding Behaviors and Maternal Interaction Quality in a Low-Income, Ethnic Minority Population

Mackenzie D.M. Whipps, Elizabeth B. Miller, Debra L. Bogen, Alan L. Mendelsohn, Pamela A. Morris, Daniel Shaw, Rachel S. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations between breastfeeding intensity and underexplored features of maternal-child interaction quality over and above the influence of breastfeeding initiation. METHODS: The current study leveraged an on-going, multisite randomized controlled trial of a tiered parenting program for 462 Medicaid-eligible mothers and their infants in the United States. We examined whether breastfeeding intensity and exclusivity was associated with observed maternal sensitivity, intrusiveness, and detachment, as well as self-reported maternal verbal responsiveness, 6 months infant age. Analyses controlled for breastfeeding initiation, demographics, and early parenting experiences. RESULTS: Higher intensity breastfeeding at 6 months was significantly related to higher maternal sensitivity (β = 0.12, p = 0.004) and lower maternal intrusiveness (β = -0.10, p = 0.045). There was no significant association between breastfeeding intensity at 6 months and detachment (β = -0.02, no significant [ns]) or self-reported verbal responsiveness (β = 0.11, ns). Results were the same when intensity was measured as a dichotomous indicator for exclusive breastfeeding. Effect sizes were small-to-moderate, ranging from Cohen's d = 0.26 to 0.31. Associations did not vary by site, race/ethnicity, infant difficultness, or household poverty. CONCLUSION: The finding that breastfeeding intensity was significantly and independently associated with maternal sensitivity and intrusiveness is novel in the literature on low-income families from the United States. These findings have implications for breastfeeding promotion strategies and indicate that future research should explore synergistic or spillover effects of interventions aimed at maternal-child interaction quality into the infant feeding domain, particularly in the primary care setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-186
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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