Dissertations & Theses (Open Access)

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Susan Tortolero Emery

Second Advisor

Paige Wermuth


The Breastfeeding Duration and Reasons for Early Cessation of Breastfeeding Among WIC Mothers study was conducted to describe the duration of and factors associated with early breastfeeding cessation among the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) population. We collected data from a random sample of WIC medical records, sampling medical records belonging to mothers who initiated breastfeeding an infant but did not breastfeed to 52 weeks. Data were analyzed to answer the questions: How long do WIC mothers breastfeed? What reasons are given during counseling sessions at WIC for early cessation of breastfeeding? Do socio-economic, demographic, or medical factors influence the length of breastfeeding for WIC mothers? Our findings suggest that most mothers (%) cease breastfeeding within the first three months of the infant’s life, and black mothers are at a higher risk of breastfeeding cessation at or before three months than white mothers. Hispanic mothers were twice as likely as white mothers to cite low milk supply and difficulty or pain with latching as the primary reason for early cessation of breastfeeding. Overall, WIC participation during pregnancy and receipt of assistance with breastfeeding are strong predictors of breastfeeding longer than three months, supporting previous findings that observe protective effects on breastfeeding through breastfeeding promotion and support (Odom, 2013). Mothers have a longer duration of breastfeeding when they participate in WIC throughout their pregnancies and receive relevant, individualized, and culturally appropriate breastfeeding assistance.