BACKGROUND: Exclusive breastfeeding until around six months of age, followed by the introduction of solids with continued breastfeeding, is considered to be the optimal nutritional start for newborn infants. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding is affected by giving mothers commercial discharge packs in hospital which contain artificial formula or promotional material for artificial formula. These packs are those which are commonly given to mothers on leaving hospital after giving birth (thus discharge packs). SEARCH STRATEGY: Comprehensive electronic search of the register of clinical trials maintained and updated by the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group and CINAHL and MEDLINE. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised controlled trials with or without blinding to examine the effects of commercial discharge packs on breastfeeding. PARTICIPANTS: Consenting postpartum women who initiate breastfeeding while in hospital or immediately upon discharge. INTERVENTIONS: Commercial discharge packs which contain free samples of infant formula or promotional material versus non commercial discharge packs (specifically those from which free samples of infant formula have been removed or have been replaced with e.g. breast pads) or no pack. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The proportion of women breastfeeding at six weeks and 3 months (13 weeks) postpartum.Other outcomes: Rates of breastfeeding at other fixed time points between 0 and 6 months postpartum. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. MAIN RESULTS: Nine randomised controlled trials involving a total of 3730 women were analysed. The studies only included women from North America. The meta-analysis showed that when comparing commercial discharge packs with any of the controls (no intervention, non-commercial pack and combinations of these), exclusive breastfeeding was reduced at all time points in the presence of commercial hospital discharge packs. There was no evidence to support the conjecture that use of hospital discharge packs causes the early termination of non-exclusive breastfeeding. Where the introduction of solid food was measured, giving a commercial pack (with or without formula) reduced the time before solid food was introduced. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The giving of commercial hospital discharge packs (with or without formula) appears to reduce the number of women exclusively breastfeeding at all times but has no significant effect upon the earlier termination of non-exclusive breastfeeding.
Donnelly, A. A., Snowden, H. H., Renfrew, M. J., & Woolridge, M. (2000). Commercial hospital discharge packs for breastfeeding women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd002075.pub2