Does breastfeeding protect against substantiated child abuse and neglect? A 15-year cohort study

Strathearn, Lane, Mamun, Abdullah A., Najman, Jackob M. and O'Callaghan, Michael J. (2009) Does breastfeeding protect against substantiated child abuse and neglect? A 15-year cohort study. Pediatrics, 123 2: 483-493. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3546

Author Strathearn, Lane
Mamun, Abdullah A.
Najman, Jackob M.
O'Callaghan, Michael J.
Title Does breastfeeding protect against substantiated child abuse and neglect? A 15-year cohort study
Journal name Pediatrics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0031-4005
Publication date 2009-02
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1542/peds.2007-3546
Volume 123
Issue 2
Start page 483
End page 493
Total pages 11
Editor Jerold F. lucey
R. Lewis
Joe Puskarz
Place of publication United States
Publisher American academy of pediatrics
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
111706 Epidemiology
111707 Family Care
920401 Behaviour and Health
Abstract OBJECTIVES. We explored whether breastfeeding was protective against maternally perpetrated child maltreatment. METHODS. A total of 7223 Australian mother-infant pairs were monitored prospectively over 15 years. In 6621 (91.7%) cases, the duration of breastfeeding was analyzed with respect to child maltreatment (including neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse), on the basis of substantiated child protection agency reports. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare no maltreatment with nonmaternal and maternally perpetrated maltreatment and to adjust for confounding in 5890 cases with complete data (81.5%). Potential confounders included sociodemographic factors, pregnancy wantedness, substance abuse during pregnancy, postpartum employment, attitudes regarding infant caregiving, and symptoms of anxiety or depression. RESULTS. Of 512 children with substantiated maltreatment reports, >60% experienced 1 episode of maternally perpetrated abuse or neglect (4.3% of the cohort). The odds ratio for maternal maltreatment increased as breastfeeding duration decreased, with the odds of maternal maltreatment for nonbreastfed children being 4.8 times the odds for children breastfed for 4 months. After adjustment for confounding, the odds for nonbreastfed infants remained 2.6 times higher, with no association seen between breastfeeding and nonmaternal maltreatment. Maternal neglect was the only maltreatment subtype associated independently with breastfeeding duration. CONCLUSION. Among other factors, breastfeeding may help to protect against maternally perpetrated child maltreatment, particularly child neglect.
Keyword attachment
child maltreatment
child neglect
mother-child relations
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Wed, 01 Apr 2009, 15:53:27 EST by Yvonne Flanagan on behalf of School of Public Health