Breastfeeding taskforce

Breastfeeding rates at a major hospital plummeted during the pandemic

October 09, 2022

2 minute read



WangJ, et al. The effect of SARS-CoV-2 on breastfeeding rates in the newborn nursery. Presented at: AAP National Conference & Exhibition; 7-11 Oct 2022; Anaheim, California.

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The rate of exclusive breastfeeding among mothers of newborns has dropped 11 percentage points from pre-pandemic levels at a major California hospital, according to data presented at the AAP National Conference and Expo. .

Co-author John Wang, DO, MPHa 3rd-year pediatric resident at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, told Healio in an interview that he helped initiate the study with the goal of improving breastfeeding rates at the center’s nursery.

“SARS-CoV-2 has posed many breastfeeding challenges, including staffing shortages, diminished in-person breastfeeding support, and parental concerns about contracting and transmitting SARS-CoV-2. from mother to babies,” Wang said.

Wang and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of newborns in the center’s nursery from January 2019 to April 2021 who were exclusively breastfed or received breast milk and formula during their stay at the center’s nursery. -born.

The researchers noted that the AAP and CDC recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for the first 6 months of life.

In the study, they divided the participants into two groups: a pre-SARS-CoV-2 group comprising 913 newborns born before April 2020 and a group of 763 newborns born during the pandemic from April 2020 to April. 2021. Wang said she examined mothers for data such as “severity and parity, ethnicity, age, mode of delivery, and pregnancy complications. They also included data such as “gestational age, birth weight, sex and hyperbilirubinemia requiring intensive phototherapy”.

They calculated rates of exclusive breastfeeding and all breastfeeding for each month and compared them using a you test with a P value less than 0.05 considered significant.

Researchers observed an 11 percentage point drop in the medical center’s exclusive breastfeeding rate, from 73.2% before the pandemic to 62.4% during the pandemic (P = .0006). The breastfeeding rate increased from 94.6% to 91.2%.

“We expected the breastfeeding rate to decrease due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, so it was not shocking to see the result,” Wang said.

In fact, he said they expected to see an “even lower” breastfeeding rate in the SARS-CoV-2 group.

“We should leverage our experiences during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to create a foundation for future practices in the event of another pandemic,” Wang said. “Earlier adaptation, such as the use of telehealth, could be beneficial in providing ongoing breastfeeding support for this important work.”

Wang and colleagues said the findings prompted the creation of a task force to counter the pandemic’s effect on breastfeeding at the medical center, and said prospective studies in the future would be “useful for assess the long-term effects of SARS-CoV”. -2 on breastfeeding rates and associated effects on infant immunity, mother-child bonding and long-term health.


The COVID-19 pandemic may have decreased breastfeeding. Published October 7, 2022. Accessed October 7, 2022.