Background: High breastfeeding attrition rates have been attributed to a number of factors, but the effect of previous breastfeeding experience on subsequent breastfeeding duration has not been adequately investigated. Methods: In this study, 559 multiparous mothers were recruited and followed prospectively for 12 months or until the infant was weaned. Results: When compared with having previously breastfed for > 3 months, no previous breastfeeding experience (HR 3.24 [95% CI 2.37-4.42]) or a breastfeeding duration of ≤ 3 months (HR 2.56; 95% CI 2.05?3.20) substantially increased the risk of early weaning. Similarly, participants who had not exclusively breastfed (HR 1.82 [95% CI 1.46?2.26]) or who had exclusively breastfed for ≤ 2 months (HR 1.65 [95% CI 1.29?2.10]) were more likely to stop exclusive breastfeeding when compared with those who had exclusively breastfed for > 2 months. More than 40 percent of the participants who had previously breastfed for > 3 months had shorter current breastfeeding durations. The median decreases in any and exclusive breastfeeding for this group were 16.4 weeks and 13.1 weeks, respectively. Conclusions: Multiparous women with no previous breastfeeding experience and those with a short duration of previous breastfeeding should be provided with greater support to promote a longer duration of breastfeeding. Multiparous women with a longer duration of breastfeeding should be strongly encouraged to meet or exceed this duration with their current infant.
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