Maternal Breastfeeding Experiences and Neonatal Breastfeeding Behaviors of Children Later Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
The purpose of this study was to describe maternal breastfeeding experiences and neonatal breastfeeding behaviors of children later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder during the first month of life. Mothers were recruited from several Midwestern metropolitan Autism Spectrum Disorder support groups and two community clinics. The mothers consented to a one hour semi-structured interview. The semi-structured interview was digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for within and across subject categories of maternal breastfeeding experiences and neonatal breastfeeding behaviors and general behaviors. A convenience sample of 20 mothers (13 primiparas, 7 multiparas) was interviewed. Maternal age range was 28-60 years of age (M = 43.3, SD = 9.6). Two mothers had more than one son diagnosed with ASD. One mother had two sons and the second mother had three sons diagnosed with ASD for a total sample of 23 breastfed neonates. All 23 children had been full term neonates (38-42 weeks gestation) with birth weight > 2500 grams, diagnosed with autism between ages of 18 months to 11 years of age (M = 4.3, SD = 2.4) and age range at the time of the maternal interview was 5-35 years of age (M = 11.5, SD = 7.6). During the interview, thirteen neonates were described as having an atypical breastfeeding pattern of vigorous sucking without satiation, “insatiable feeding”. Twelve mothers described a perception of diminished social interactions during the first month of life. Eleven neonates were described by their mothers as being >70th percentile for weight. The maternal descriptions of neonatal breastfeeding behaviors may be a description of a constellation of behaviors related to soft neonatal neurological signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder. “Insatiable feeding” may be feeding without pausing during breastfeeding leading to excessive weight gain, and a maternal perception of diminished social interaction. “Insatiable feeding” may be a precursor to pervasive behavior. Further study is needed to verify these maternal descriptions of neonatal behaviors.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Qualitative Descriptive StudyQualitative Descriptive Study