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Autistic women’s views and experiences of infant feeding: A systematic review of qualitative evidence

Grant, Aimee, Jones, Sara, Williams, Kathryn, Leigh, Jennifer, Brown, Amy (2022) Autistic women’s views and experiences of infant feeding: A systematic review of qualitative evidence. Autism, . ISSN 1362-3613. E-ISSN 1461-7005. (doi:10.1177/13623613221089374) (KAR id:94023)


Low breastfeeding rates are driven by multiple bio-psycho-social factors. Experience of breastfeeding is known to differ by maternal demographic factors (age, education and ethnicity) but there is less recognition of factors such as neurodivergence. This review, prospectively registered with PROSPERO (registration number: CRD42021271465), systematically identified qualitative research, commentaries and personal accounts related to Autistic mothers and infant feeding. Database searching identified 1225 records, with thematic synthesis undertaken on 22 (eight peer-reviewed studies and 14 grey literature) pieces. Our analysis identified that maternity and infant feeding services were built on a lack of understanding of Autistic needs, and were often inaccessible at a time when Autistic mothers already felt a loss of control and lack of social support. Specifically relating to breastfeeding, knowledge and determination were often high, and a minority of mothers reported positive breastfeeding experiences. However, sensory challenges, pain and interoceptive differences (exacerbated by a lack of support) made breastfeeding impossible for some. Infant formula was viewed as second-best to breastmilk, but a minority of mothers found the ritual of preparing bottles of formula positive. There is an urgent need for maternity and infant feeding services to accommodate the needs of Autistic mothers, including service design and staff training.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/13623613221089374
Uncontrolled keywords: autism, breastfeeding, infant feeding, maternity
Subjects: H Social Sciences
R Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC553.A88 Autism. Asperger's syndrome
Divisions: Divisions > Directorate of Education > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
Depositing User: Jennifer Leigh
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2022 07:58 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2022 08:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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