HealthDay News — Supplementing infant feeding with in-hospital formula shortens the duration of breastfeeding among first-time mothers who intend to breastfeed exclusively, according to researchers.

Caroline J. Chantry, MD, of the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, and colleagues assessed the strength of breastfeeding intentions in a cohort of expectant mothers. The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers monitored mothers’ infant feeding practices through 60 days after childbirth, and then examined the association between in-hospital formula supplementation and breastfeeding behaviors. During maternity stay 210 infants were exclusively breastfed (53%), whereas 183 received in-hospital formula supplementation (47%).

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Mothers who supplemented feeding with in-hospital formula were three-fold more likely to stop breastfeeding by day 60 compared with those who breastfed exclusively (32.8% vs. 10.5%; intention-adjusted relative risk 2.7), the researchers found.

In-hospital formula use was also associated with a nearly two-fold greater risk of not fully breastfeeding on days 30 through 60 (67.8% vs. 36.7%; ARR 1.8). The relative risks of not fully breastfeeding (P =0.003) and ceasing breastfeeding (P =0.011) increased significantly with number of in-hospital formula feeds.

Mothers most frequently cited perceived insufficient milk supply (18%), signs of inadequate intake (16%), and poor latch or breastfeeding (14%) as reasons for supplementing infant feeding with in-hospital formula.

“Strategies should be sought to avoid unnecessary in-hospital formula supplementation and to support breastfeeding when in-hospital formula supplementation is unavoidable,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Chandry CJ et al. J Pediatr. 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.12.035.