The Contexts of Life Course Health Development Associated with Exclusive Breastfeeding

This webinar – the first in the LCRN’s series on Occupational Therapy and MCH: An Emerging Partnership to Improve Early Family Experiences and Life Course Health Development – features Jennifer Pitonyak, PhD, OTR/L, SCFES.


Dr. Pitonyak is Assistant Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at University of Washington. She uses the Life Course Health Development (LCHD) framework to examine contextual factors that influence family occupation and health development. Dr. Pitonyak’s clinical background in occupational therapy and PhD training in health policy shape her research, policy, and program development interests in understanding and lessening barriers to health-producing early family experiences, particularly the social policy barriers to breastfeeding such as lack of paid family medical leave, and workplace and child care environments. Her interests also include the role of occupational therapy in public health and primary care. This webinar shares results from Dr. Pitonyak’s dissertation research describing characteristics of women who initiated exclusive breastfeeding and examines the associations of those factors with exclusive breastfeeding lasting ≥4 months. The Life Course Health Development (LCHD) framework was used to structure the analysis and interpret results. The study used secondary analysis of data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II to examine two cohorts: the cohort of women who reported exclusively breastfeeding at the time of hospital discharge (n=1226) and a sub-cohort of women who returned to work at month 3 after giving birth (n=421). Independent factors included sociodemographic characteristics, risk of postpartum depression, and work and child care characteristics. Results of bivariate and multivariate analysis showed that college education, marriage, and flexible work characteristics were associated with greater odds of exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months, whereas the plan to return to work after birth and risk of postpartum depression were associated with decreased odds of achieving this outcome. Results of this study demonstrate the usefulness of the LCHD framework for examining factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding and for understanding complex early family experiences.


Webinar recording available here


Presentation slides available here


Handout available here