Aim: Our aim was to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on breastfeeding at discharge in a Baby Friendly hospital in 2020.Methods: This study retrospectively compared healthy neonates born in 2019 with those born in 2020 at the Baby Friendly San Bonifacio Hospital in Verona, Italy. We also compared those born to mothers who tested negative and positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Breastfeeding support practices, nationality and type of birth were evaluated. The outcomes were type of breastfeeding at discharge and the presence of breastfeeding difficulties.Results: We analysed 2171 healthy neonates, which was 83.5% of those born in the hospital in 2019 and 2020, and 20 were born to mothers with the virus. Exclusive breastfeeding rates were 4.6% lower in 2020 than 2019 and breastfeeding difficulties rose by 10.1%. Mixed feeding, at the mother's request, and formula feeding due to medical indications, increased by 5.9% and 18.1% respectively. Most of the Baby Friendly hospital practices were implemented, but prenatal and intrapartum support decreased.Conclusion: Exclusive breastfeeding fell during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and breastfeeding difficulties rose. These may have been due to the effect of maternal and healthcare factors during the pandemic.
Fingerle, Michele;Piacentini, Giorgio
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