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OBJECTIVES: to assess the mean duration, prevalence and reasons that lead to an early cessation of breastfeeding in a group of healthy term infants in the first six months of life. METHODS: prospective, observational study. One-hundred Caucasian, non smoking mothers, that intended to breastfeed for at least 12 weeks, were enrolled. Information on anthropometric parameters, type of delivery, socio-demographic characteristics, mode of feeding and reasons for stopping breastfeeding have been obtained through three different questionnaires (submitted at enrollment, on the 7th day, at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months). RESULTS: exclusive breastfeeding gradually decreased from the 7th day to the 6th month of life. Most of the mothers stopped breastfeeding during the first month and a half or after 3 months and a half. Two percent of the mothers stopped on the 7th day whereas at 6 months the percentage of cessation was 14%. The cumulative percentage of interruption at 6th month was 45%. Maternal factors, like sore nipples or delayed onset of lactation, were the most frequent reasons that led to an early cessation, while during the following months inadequate breast milk and latch-on problems were predominant. On the other hand, attending a pre-natal course or having a previous successful breastfeeding experience were significantly associated with a long-lasting breastfeeding. CONCLUSIONS: promotion of breastfeeding during the prenatal course and a better support for lactation management during the first months seem to be the areas where more efforts are needed to implement breastfeeding rates.
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