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Early Touch Linked to Higher Breastfeeding Rates

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 01:49 PM EDT

Mothers who hold their babies right after birth are more likely to breastfeed, a new study suggests.

New research reveals that early skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant in the delivery room is associated with an increased likelihood for exclusive breastfeeding. Researchers found that the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding was even greater when skin-to-skin contact was combined with a mother's intent to breastfeed.

Researchers looked at data from electronic medical records of single, late, preterm of term healthy births at a New York hospital. The study looked at a total of 150 newborn hospital records. Researchers focused on whether or not the mother and infant had skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room, maternal age, intention to breastfeed, gestational age, method of delivery, admission temperature and glucose testing on admission to the newborn nursery. Researchers also noted the number of formula feedings, birth weight, discharge weight and duration of hospital stay.

The findings revealed that 53 percent of the infants had skin-to-skin contact with their mothers in the delivery room, and 72 percent of the mothers intended to breastfeed exclusively. However, only 28 percent of mother actually went through with it.

The study revealed that the intention to breastfeed and skin-to-skin contact were significantly related to exclusive breastfeeding, independent of maternal age, mode of delivery, parity and gestational age. Researchers found that exclusive breastfeeding was significantly associated with skin-to-skin contact when corrected for gestational age and delivery method.

"Breastfeeding is one of the easiest things we can do for babies to make sure they're growing up healthy," study author Darshna Bhatt, DO, MPH, said in a news release. "While skin-to-skin contact is associated positively with exclusive breastfeeding, the statistically significant factor is intention."

"We have to create a more interdisciplinary approach to increasing awareness and intention," Bhatt said. "When moms declare their intention to breastfeed, there really shouldn't be a reason why they don't have skin-to-skin contact with her new infant in the delivery room."

The findings were presented Oct. 28 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando

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