Patterns of breastfeeding over time are not currently well understood. Limited qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests that there may be latent subgroups of mothers in the United States following very different trajectories of breast milk provision for their infants. This study used a quantitative modelling method (group-based trajectory modelling) to identify and describe these subgroups. Using data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (n = 3,023), the authors identified four distinct trajectories of breastfeeding intensity, each of which included a substantial subset of the total sample. A model with four groups fit the data well by objective and conceptual standards. Bivariate associations were analysed, and significant difference between trajectory group membership was found on an array of maternal and family determinants, including maternal demographics, hospital experience, and psychosocial resources, as well as on postweaning perceptions. These associations were used to create group profiles for each subgroup. Controlling for sociodemographic covariates, we also found that trajectory membership was significantly associated with several health outcomes for the target child 6 years later, including certain infections, picky eating, and health care utilization; trajectory group membership was also associated with maternal breastfeeding of subsequent children and maternal body mass index (BMI) at Year 6. Child BMI z-score and maternal breast cancer diagnosis were not significantly different across trajectory groups after accounting for confounding covariates, nor was time missed from school for the target child. Though exploratory, the initial identification and description of these four subgroups suggest future directions using breastfeeding trajectory methods, with potential implications for measurement, intervention development, and targeting.
- breast milk
- infant formula
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health