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Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition

Why do women stop breast-feeding? Results from a contemporary prospective study in a cohort of Australian women



Australian guidelines recommend infants be breast-fed for at least their first year of life; however, for a variety of reasons many mothers cease breast-feeding before this age. The objective of this study was to determine the reasons why women stop breast-feeding their infant completely, in relation to the age of the infant.


Primiparous Australian women aged between 18 and 40 years underwent a self-administered questionnaire-based birth cohort study on infant-feeding attitudes, behaviours and feeding patterns. Data were extracted from the demographic questionnaire and from questionnaires administered at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of infant age between October 2010 and September 2011.


Breast-feeding initiation in this cohort was 97%; however, by 52 weeks of infant age 46% of mothers had completely ceased breast-feeding. In those mothers who had ceased breast-feeding before 26 weeks the most common reason was ‘I did not have enough milk’. In those mothers who had completely stopped breast-feeding between 26 and 52 weeks the most common reason reported as being very important in the decision to cease breast-feeding was ‘My baby lost interest’.


Maternal concerns regarding breast trauma, milk supply and infant satiety were central mediators of breast-feeding duration among these Queensland women. Further research into the antecedents of sucking pathologies and reasons for nipple trauma is indicated. Health professionals can assist women to recognise cues of hunger and satiety in their infants and understand the dynamics and natural history of breast-feeding to prolong breast-feeding relationships.

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We thank and acknowledge all the mothers who took part in the Feeding Queensland Babies Study. Financial support: The production of this manuscript was financially supported by a donation from Nestle Nutrition Institute (Oceania).

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Correspondence to R M Newby.

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Newby, R., Davies, P. Why do women stop breast-feeding? Results from a contemporary prospective study in a cohort of Australian women. Eur J Clin Nutr 70, 1428–1432 (2016).

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