Despite the recognized importance of human milk (HM) use, breastfeeding is often discouraged for infants with cleft lip and/or palate because of their anatomical abnormalities. Poor weight gain may require formula for calorie supplementation. Stresses associated with caring for infants with cleft lip/palate may decrease rates of HM provision to these infants.
This study investigates the experiences of mothers of infants with cleft lip/palate (CL/P) to determine choices and factors associated with providing HM to their infants.
A retrospective telephone survey was administered to a cohort of mothers of infants with CL/P.
Fifty mothers agreed to participate in the survey. Most (78%) initiated use of HM for a median duration of 4 months, 32% provided HM for 6 months or more, and 79% exclusively expressed their HM. Poor supply was the most frequent challenge to providing HM and led to cessation in 46% of the mothers. Formula was used to supplement for poor supply or poor infant weight gain in 90% of the mothers. The best predictors of a mother's use of HM were child not in day care, genetic diagnosis, and gestational age at birth. Only 36% of mothers reported individual encouragement to provide HM, and 18% reported they were specifically discouraged from providing HM for their infants.
Although initiation rates were high, there are opportunities to improve support for mothers to increase duration of HM provision in children with CL/P.
This study establishes a baseline for future prospective studies looking at the impact of active encouragement and provision of lactation support within the cleft team setting.
Children's Mercy Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri.
Correspondence: Alison Kaye, MD, FACS, FAAP, Division of Plastic Surgery, Children's Mercy Kansas City, 2 Annex, 2401 Gillham Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors have no financial or nonfinancial conflicts of interests to disclose.