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BACKGROUND: Understanding inequalities in breastfeeding practices may help to explain the UK's persistently low breastfeeding rates. A recent study using the quinquennial UK Infant Feeding Surveys (IFS) found that sociodemographic inequalities in breastfeeding initiation persisted between 1985 and 2010. The present study investigates the sociodemographic inequalities in breastfeeding continuation at 6 weeks after birth among mothers who initiated and maintained breastfeeding at 1 week in 1985-2010. METHODS: Data were drawn from the 1985 to 2010 IFS and restricted to mothers who were breastfeeding at 1 week after birth. Time trends in the proportion of mothers in each sociodemographic group were examined. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations between breastfeeding at 6 weeks and sociodemographic factors, adjusting for confounders. Heterogeneity test was used to assess changes in these associations over time. RESULTS: Sociodemographic inequalities in breastfeeding continuation at 6 weeks persisted over the 25-year period. In most survey years, mothers were most likely to breastfeed at 6 weeks if they were 30 or older versus under 25 (OR 1.49-1.99 across survey years, I2 = 0%, heterogeneity P = 0.45); completed full-time education over age 18 compared to 18 or younger (OR 1.56-2.51, I2 = 58.7%, P = 0.03); or of Black, Asian, Mixed, or other ethnicity compared to White (OR 1.45-2.48, I2 = 44.8%, P = 0.16). CONCLUSIONS: Among mothers breastfeeding at 1 week, those who were younger, White or had fewer years of full-time education were at greatest risk of discontinuing before 6 weeks. This risk persisted over time and was independent of their high risk of not initiating breastfeeding.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Clin Nutr

Publication Date