Infant breastfeeding patterns by sex: Do males feed more?

Titilola Balogun, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Most studies have looked at breastfeeding practices from the point of view of the maternal behavior only, however in counseling women who choose to breastfeed it is important to be aware of general infant feeding patterns in order to adequately provide information about what to expect. Available literature on the differences in infant breastfeeding behavior by sex is minimal and therefore requires further investigation. Objectives: This study determined if at the age of 2 months there were differences in the amount of breast milk consumed, duration of breastfeeding, and infant satiety by infant sex. It also assessed whether infant sex is an independent predictor of initiation of breastfeeding. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data obtained from the Infant Feeding Practices Survey II (IFPS II) which was a longitudinal study carried out from May 2005 through June 2007 by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The questionnaires asked about demography, prenatal care, mode of delivery, birth weight, infant sex, and breastfeeding patterns. A total of 3,033 and 2,552 mothers completed the neonatal and post-neonatal questionnaires respectively. Results: There was no significant difference in the initiation of breastfeeding by infant sex. About 85% of the male infants initiated breastfeeding compared with 84% of female infants. The odds ratio of ever initiating breastfeeding by male infants was 0.93 but the difference was not significant with a p-value of 0.49. None of the other infant feeding patterns differed by infant gender. Conclusion: This study found no evidence that male infants feed more or that their mothers are more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Each baby is an individual and therefore will have a unique feeding pattern. Based on these findings, the major determining factors for breastfeeding continue to be maternal factors therefore more effort should be invested in promoting breastfeeding among mothers of all ethnic groups and social classes.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Balogun, Titilola, "Infant breastfeeding patterns by sex: Do males feed more?" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1515635.