14.04.2020 | Ausgabe 4/2020
Breastfeeding practices among childhood cancer survivors
Journal of Cancer Survivorship
- Susan Ogg, James L. Klosky, Wassim Chemaitilly, Deo Kumar Srivastava, Mingjuan Wang, Ginger Carney, Rohit Ojha, Leslie L. Robison, Cheryl L. Cox, Melissa M. Hudson
This cross-sectional study compared breastfeeding outcomes among childhood cancer survivors to those of women in the general population and evaluated whether breastfeeding is adversely affected by cancer treatment or endocrine-related late effects.
A self-reported survey ascertained breastfeeding practices and incorporated items from the questionnaires used in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II (IFPS II) to allow comparison with the general population. Among 710 eligible survivors, 472 (66%) responded. The participants were predominantly non-Hispanic White (84%), married (73%), and had some college or less (60%). The mean maternal age at the time of birth of the first child after cancer treatment was 24 years (SD 24.3 ± 4.8).
Fewer survivors planned to breastfeed than did IFPS II controls (67% vs. 82%, P < .0001), and fewer survivors initiated breastfeeding (66% vs. 85%, P < .0001). The median breastfeeding duration was shorter among survivors, with early undesired weaning occurring sooner in the survivor group (1.4 months, interquartile range (IQR) 0.5–3.5 months) than in the IFPS II group (2.7 months, IQR 0.9–5.4 months). A higher proportion of survivors reported an unfavorable breastfeeding experience (19% vs. 7.5%, P < .0001) and early, undesired weaning (57.5%, 95% CI 51–64) than did IFPS II participants (45.2%, 95% CI 44–47, P = .0164). Among survivors who expressed intention and chose to breastfeed, 46% endorsed disrupted lactation related to physiologic problems with high risk in those overweight/obese.
Survivors are at risk of negative breastfeeding experiences; however, lactation outcomes were not significantly associated with cancer diagnosis, treatments, or endocrine complications.
Implications for cancer survivors
Prior research has not examined the association of cancer treatments and clinically validated late effects with lactation outcomes in a clinically diverse childhood cancer survivor cohort. Findings from this study suggest that childhood cancer survivors, especially those who are overweight/obese, are at risk of having negative breastfeeding experiences. Early undesired weaning, physiologic problems related to lactation and misconceptions about breastfeeding, especially fears of passing on cancer through breastmilk, highlight the need for counseling and specialized support to optimize lactation outcomes in this vulnerable population.