Master's Project Title:

Maternity Leave Length is Associated with Breastfeeding Duration, Not Initiation in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth

MCH Student:

Elizabeth Hansen

Date of Defense:

June 11, 2007


Objectives: As employment and breastfeeding increase among mothers, more women are facing the difficulties of balancing the demands of both activities. This paper examines the association of maternity leave length to breastfeeding initiation and duration.

Methods: Using data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, logistic regression models were used to estimate the effect of maternity leave (12 weeks or fewer or more than 12 weeks) to breastfeeding initiation (yes or no). Linear regression models were used to estimate the relationship of lenth of maternity leave in weeks to duration of breastfeeding in weeks.

Results: Sixty-two percent of the sample initiated breastfeeding. Maternity leave length was not associated with breastfeeding initiation (Odds Ratio=1.2; 95% confidence interval=0.9, 1.8) after adjustment for confounding. Maternity leave length was associated with duration of breastfeeding after adjusting for potential confounding (beta=0.25, p=0.02).

Conclusions: Maternity leave length is associated with breastfeeding duration but not breastfeeding initiation. Longer maternity leave may increase breastfeeding duration among working women in the United States.