Randomized Trial of Breastfeeding Support in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants
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OBJECTIVE: To determine if supplementary structured breastfeeding counseling (SSBC) for both parents compared with conventional hospital breastfeeding support (CHBS) improves the duration of breastfeeding in very low-birth-weight infants up to 1 year old. DESIGN: Randomized trial with longitudinal follow-up of infants at term, and ages 1, 3, 6, and 12 months (infant ages corrected for prematurity). SETTING: A tertiary-level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and geographically defined region in central-west Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Parents of infants with a birth weight less than 1500 g, who planned to breastfeed. INTERVENTIONS: The SSBC consisted of viewing a video on breastfeeding for preterm infants; individual counseling by the research lactation consultant; weekly personal contact in the hospital; and frequent postdischarge contact through the infants' first year or until breastfeeding was discontinued. The CHBS group had standard breastfeeding support from regular staff members confined to the period of hospitalization in the NICU. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Duration of breastfeeding. RESULTS: At study entry, there were no statistically significant differences in major demographic characteristics between groups. The mean duration of breastfeeding was 26.1 weeks (SD = 20.8; median, 17.4) in the SSBC group and 24.0 weeks (SD = 20.5; median, 17.4) in the CHBS group (not statistically significant). CONCLUSIONS: Long-term breastfeeding counseling of parents of very low-birth-weight infants in this study did not demonstrate a significant difference in duration of breastfeeding. These results may be explained by the high motivation to breastfeed in both groups, a relatively advantaged population, and the availability of community breastfeeding resources, which may have diminished any significant differences that could have resulted from a breastfeeding intervention. The results of this study, compared with previous studies of very low-birth-weight infants, indicate a new trend to longer duration of breastfeeding in preterm infants.
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