Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

Null, Dawn


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OFMelanie Tharp, for the Master of Science degree in Food and Nutrition, presented on November 16, 2021, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: A SURVEY OF PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS ON BREASTFEEDING DURATION AND EXCLUSIVITYMAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Dawn NullBreastfeeding an infant is the current best recommendation for infant feeding, but only about a quarter of infants are breastfed until the suggested age of 6 months exclusively and 12 months with complementary foods. In this study, the objective was to find what determinants there are in women choosing to breastfeed and what barriers that exist to cause early cessation of breastfeeding. Current studies suggest that more research be done on the physiological factors such as weight and the presence of hormone problems that affect breastfeeding. The study focused on the physiological factors that may affect breastfeeding outcomes, in this study, duration and exclusivity. It was hypothesized that both duration and exclusivity would be lower in the women with the physiological risk factors. Participants were adult breastfeeding mothers. The data was collected through the use of an online survey exploring breastfeeding practices and physiological factors. A total of 507 participants started the survey with data from participants who did not complete at least 50% of the survey were excluded leaving 437 participants in the final sample. Overall, the sample had higher than average income, education, and age. There were no significant relationships found between the physiological factors studied and the duration of breastfeeding. However, there was a significant relationship found between formula use and exercise which suggests a lower formula use with more exercise. Suggestions for future studies include considering ethnicity and using a stronger study design to be able to find cause and effect relationships between physiological factors and breastfeeding outcomes.




This thesis is only available for download to the SIUC community. Current SIUC affiliates may also access this paper off campus by searching Dissertations & Theses @ Southern Illinois University Carbondale from ProQuest. Others should contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library or contact ProQuest's Dissertation Express service.