Clinical Health Updates

Breast feeding interventions are effective

Clinical Question:
Does antenatal breast feeding education or postnatal lactation support improve the rates of exclusive breast feeding?

Bottom Line:
A short video explaining breast feeding and a 2-session postnatal counseling are both effective in increasing the number of women who use breast feeding exclusively. For every 10 to 11 women who receive either intervention, 1 additional woman will choose — and stick to — breast feeding.

Reference:
Su LL, Chong YS, Chan YH, et al. Antenatal education and postnatal support strategies for improving rates of exclusive breast feeding: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2007;335(7620):596.

Study Design:
Randomized controlled trial (nonblinded)

Synopsis:
The authors investigated whether antenatal breast feeding education alone or postnatal lactation support alone improves rates of exclusive breast feeding compared with routine hospital care. They did a randomized controlled trial in a tertiary hospital in Singapore. 450 women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Primary outcomes were rates of exclusive breast feeding at discharge from hospital and two weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months after delivery. Secondary outcomes were rates of any breast feeding. Compared with women who received routine care, women in the postnatal support group were more likely to breastfeed exclusively at two weeks (relative risk 1.82, 95% confidence interval 1.14 to 2.90), six weeks (1.85, 1.11 to 3.09), three months (1.87, 1.03 to 3.41), and six months (2.12, 1.03 to 4.37) postnatally. Women receiving antenatal education were more likely to breast feed exclusively at six weeks (1.73, 1.04 to 2.90), three months (1.92, 1.07 to 3.48), and six months (2.16, 1.05 to 4.43) postnatally. The numbers needed to treat to achieve one woman exclusively breast feeding at six months were 11 (6 to 80) for postnatal support and 10 (6 to 60) for antenatal education. Women who received postnatal support were more likely to exclusively or predominantly breast feed two weeks after delivery compared with women who received antenatal education (1.53, 1.01 to 2.31). The rate of any breastfeeding six weeks after delivery was also higher in the postnatal support group compared with women who received routine care (1.16, 1.02 to 1.31).