Online Program

Effect of breastfeeding on postpartum depression among adolescent mothers

Monday, November 2, 2015

Heather Sipsma, PhD, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Elizabeth Ruiz, MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Krista Jones, DNP, MSN, APHN, RN, 625 S. Wright Street Suite 201, UIC College of Nursing, Champaign, IL
Trace S. Kershaw, Ph.D., Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Background: Postpartum depressive symptoms affect a substantial proportion of new mothers and have adverse health consequences for both the mother and her baby. Breastfeeding may reduce the likelihood of developing postpartum depressive symptoms, but this association has not been studied among adolescent mothers. Given the disparities in breastfeeding and mental health between adolescent and adult mothers, this association warrants investigation.

Methods: Data were derived from a longitudinal cohort of pregnant adolescent females (ages 14-21) and their male partners followed from pregnancy through 6 months postpartum (N=225).  Linear regression models were used to examine associations between depressive symptoms at 6 months and breastfeeding (initiation, duration, and difficulties), while adjusting for depressive symptoms in pregnancy and other potential confounders.

Results: There were no significant differences in depressive scores in pregnancy or at 6 months postpartum between young mothers who did and did not initiate breastfeeding. After adjusting for depressive symptoms in pregnancy, depressive symptoms at 6 months postpartum was not significantly associated with breastfeeding duration, current breastfeeding at 6 months, or breastfeeding difficulties (not at all, some, much). However, current breastfeeding at 6 months was significantly associated with lower depressive scores (B=-7.9, SE=4.13, p-value=0.056) among young mothers with no difficulties breastfeeding; no significant associations existed among young mothers reporting some and much breastfeeding difficulty.

Conclusions: Minimizing breastfeeding difficulty not only has the opportunity to improve breastfeeding duration but may also help to improve maternal mental health among young mothers. Interventions aiming to promote healthy families among young mothers should emphasize breastfeeding support.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related nursing
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate associations between depressive symptoms at 6 months and breastfeeding (initiation, duration, and difficulties) among adolescent mothers after accounting for depressive symptoms in pregnancy

Keyword(s): Breastfeeding, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctoral degree in epidemiology, have published several articles related to breastfeeding and mental health among young mothers and am pursuing a research trajectory focused on improving postpartum health among adolescent parents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.