Infant-Feeding Intentions and Practices of Internal Medicine Physicians

Maryam Sattari, Janet R. Serwint, Jonathan J. Shuster, David M. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Personal breastfeeding behavior of physician mothers is associated with their clinical breastfeeding advocacy, which in turn impacts patients' breastfeeding behavior. Internists can play an important role in breastfeeding advocacy as they usually come in contact with mothers longitudinally. Objective: To explore the personal infant-feeding decisions and behavior of physician mothers in internal medicine (IM). Materials and Methods: Physicians with current or previous IM training were isolated from our "Breastfeeding Among Physicians" database. The data in the database were gathered from cross-sectional surveys of 130 physician volunteers, mainly affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD) and the University of Florida College of Medicine (Gainesville, FL). Results: Seventy-two mothers reported current or previous IM training and had 196 infants. Breastfeeding rates were 96% at birth, 77% at 6 months, and 40% at 12 months. Exclusive breastfeeding rates were 78% at birth, 67% at 3 months, and 30% at 6 months. While maternal goal for breastfeeding duration correlated with duration of both exclusive and any breastfeeding, there was a consistent and appreciable disparity between maternal duration goal and actual breastfeeding duration. The participants reported work-related reasons for early supplementation and breastfeeding cessation. Conclusions: We have described for the first time in the literature the personal infant-feeding intentions and behavior of a cohort of IM physician mothers. Workplace interventions to enable internists to maintain breastfeeding after return to work and to achieve their breastfeeding goals might improve the health of these mothers and their infants and positively impact their clinical breastfeeding advocacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalBreastfeeding Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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