The relationship between maternal pre-pregnancy weight and breastfeeding initiation

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University of New Brunswick


In Canada, 37.2% of women of childbearing age are classified as overweight or obese. This percentage is alarming as excess body weight is not only a major risk factor for chronic diseases but it is also linked to maternal-child outcomes including breastfeeding initiation. This paper-based thesis is comprised of three sections. The first section provides a review of previous research examining the association between mothers’ pre-pregnancy weight and breastfeeding initiation. The second section is a manuscript for publication describing an analysis of administrative data for 1,079 mother and newborn dyads. Regression analysis was used to predict breastfeeding initiation based on women’s pre-pregnancy weight after adjusting for 10 variables reflecting attributes of the mothers, birth processes, and newborns. A statistically significant association was detected indicating obese mothers are less likely to initiate breastfeeding compared to normal weight mothers. The final section is a paper outlining the benefits and challenges of conducting secondary analysis of administrative data for research purposes.