Despite growing evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding, rates of breastfeeding remain disproportionately low among adolescent mothers compared with older mothers in the United States. Current interventions primarily target adult women, and little evidence is available for breastfeeding promotion among young women. Accordingly, we aim to review interventions designed to improve breastfeeding rates among adolescents to make recommendations for future research and practice. We searched MEDLINE and PsycINFO for articles that evaluated interventions aiming to improve rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, or exclusivity among adolescents. Inclusion criteria included interventions targeting pregnant or postpartum adolescents (mean/median age <22 years) that were conducted in high-income settings. Six interventions met our inclusion criteria; of these, 4 interventions aimed to increase breastfeeding initiation, 5 aimed to increase breastfeeding duration, and 4 aimed to increase breastfeeding exclusivity. Interventions included school-based programs, home visits, and telephone support that were implemented by a combination of peer counselors, nurse clinicians, doulas, and lactation consultants. Only 1 intervention, a combination of education and counseling provided by a lactation consultant-peer counselor team, significantly improved both breastfeeding initiation and duration. Other results were mixed, and studies were subject to several methodological limitations. We recommend that more interventions should be developed and evaluated. In addition, interventions should be less resource intensive, be more theoretically driven, and specifically include mothers and partners of adolescents to successfully promote breastfeeding among adolescent mothers.
Keywords: Adolescents (13-19 years), Education / Awareness & Skill Development / Training, Health Through the Ages, High Risk Group (e.g., adolescent parents, elderly, homeless, substance users), Phone, Primary health care provider office (e.g., Public health nurse, dietitian, social worker), Reproductive Health & Healthy Families, School, Social Support (e.g., counseling, case management, outreach programs)