Shorter maternity leaves bad for breastfeeding


It is advice that has been touted by doctors for years -- breastfeeding for the first six months is good for both baby's health and mom's -- so why are so many new mothers opting for formula or other baby food before this benchmark?

A study by California researchers, "Juggling Work and Life During Pregnancy," seems to have found some answers to this question.

According to the study, which was funded by the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau and published last year in Pediatrics, the worst culprit behind this early abandonment of breastfeeding is a return to the workforce.

The researchers discovered that while a growing number of women begin breastfeeding when their child is born (up from 71% in 2000 to 74% in 2006), the percentage of mothers still nursing shows a decrease (to 43%) by the time baby is six months old, and decreases significantly again by twelve months (to 23%). To determine the cause of this decline, they examined data from 770 California mothers, all full-time workers.