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Original Investigation
November 2013

Influence of Bedsharing Activity on Breastfeeding Duration Among US Mothers

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore
  • 2Departments of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville
  • 3Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 4Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 5University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health, Omaha
  • 6Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, Maryland
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(11):1038-1044. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2632

Importance  Some professional associations advocate bedsharing to facilitate breastfeeding, while others recommend against it to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation deaths. A better understanding of the quantitative influence of bedsharing on breastfeeding duration is needed to guide policy.

Objective  To quantify the influence of bedsharing on breastfeeding duration.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Longitudinal data were from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, which enrolled mothers while pregnant and followed them through the first year of infant life. Questionnaires were sent at infant ages 1 to 7, 9, 10, and 12 months, and 1846 mothers answered at least 1 question regarding bedsharing and were breastfeeding at infant age 2 weeks.

Exposures  Bedsharing, defined as the mother lying down and sleeping with her infant on the same bed or other sleeping surfaces for nighttime sleep or during the major sleep period.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Survival analysis to investigate the effect of bedsharing on duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding.

Results  Longer duration of bedsharing, indicated by a larger cumulative bedsharing score, was associated with a longer duration of any breastfeeding but not exclusive breastfeeding, after adjusting for covariates. Breastfeeding duration was longer among women who were better educated, were white, had previously breastfed, had planned to breastfeed, and had not returned to work in the first year postpartum.

Conclusions and Relevance  Multiple factors were associated with breastfeeding, including bedsharing. Given the risk of sudden infant death syndrome related to bedsharing, multipronged strategies to promote breastfeeding should be developed and tested.