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RAITH, E. C. (2003). Duration of Breast-feeding and the Incidence of Smoking. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 6, 2023 .

Duration of Breast-feeding and the Incidence of Smoking

Sponsored by: ELIZABETH HAMMER (eyhammer@loyno.edu)
This study looked for a relationship between the duration of breast-feeding and the incidence of smoking in later years. The idea was derived from Sigmund Freud’s view of the oral gratification of an infant through the sucking of the mother’s breast. Freud believed that an under or over indulgence of gratification would leave the infant with fixations later in life. There were 87 participants, 41 males and 46 females. The average age was 19.6 years. There are two subject variables examined in this study, the duration for which the participant was breast-fed, and the smoking habits of the participant if any. The study’s hypothesis was that the duration of breast-feeding, whether below or above average would have a curvilinear relationship with the incidence of smoking later in life. Meaning those who were under breast-fed and those who were over breast-fed will have a higher incidence of smoking in comparison to those breast-fed the average amount. The results found did not support the hypothesis. There was no significant relationship found between the duration of breast-feeding and the incidence of smoking. The study tried to support Freud’s idea of oral fixation, but was unsuccessful in the process.
According to Sigmund Freud, there are three stages in the early development of a child that give an unconscious drive to the child’s actions. Failure to receive sufficient amounts of gratification or to overindulge during these stages leads to a fixation that will follow the child through adulthood. “The sexual aim of the infantile instance consists in obtaining satisfaction by means of an appropriate stimulation”(Freud, 1905). The first stage a child encounters, the oral stage, is what gives the child the instinct to suck for both physical and emotional nourishment. The suck helps an infant during breastfeeding, the primary way for receive food. Therefore, failure to completely gratify the urges during the oral stage will lead to oral fixations. Such fixations range from nail biting to excessive eating, a sarcastic personality to smoking. Although many studies have been done on reasons for smoking, there is no one reason that all smokers cite nor are there concrete predictors for smoking. In 1992, Jenks found that both men and women ranked psychological addiction as their number one reason for smoking (Jenks, 1992). This was followed by relaxation, physical addiction, pleasant activity and weight control. This survey was taken of men and women over 18, whereas McGee and Stanton (1993) researched reasons for smoking amongst adolescents and found different data. McGee et al found in adolescents that the reason behind their smoking habits were relaxation, peers, and image (McGee & Stanton, 1993). Breaking down reasons for smoking is a task that each researcher has done individually. This study is looking for support that a reason for smoking is on the subconscious level. Schmid found that early teens that showed negative feelings toward themselves were more likely to become smokers later on (Schmid, 2001). In any case this study hopefully will be able to add to the debate of reasons for and predictors of smoking, such as over or under indulgence in breas-feeding. In studies that divided breastfed babies into categories based on length of breast-feeding, the babies breast fed the longest did better in terms of both lower disease and higher IQ (Dettwyler, 2003). Because this topic affects all mothers and their children there have been many studies done to show benefits or setbacks, if there are any. Anderson et al (2001) performed a longitudinal cohort study exploring the effects of breast-feeding on child development at five years. Children were chosen at birth and were reintroduced to the researchers at the age of five. Then they were tested. The result came back “a strong positive relationship was demonstrated between breast-feeding and the [intelligence] scores with increasing scores with increased duration of breast-feeding”(Anderson et al, 2001). Highly credible organizations, such as UNICEF(1990), have recommended that women exclusively breast-feed for at least six months. So if there is so much published about the benefits of breast-feeding it is difficult to understand why women would choose not to. Well it seems that those not breast-feeding are low-income families that do not have the education or support to know to breast-feeding’s benefits. In a study done by Bronner et al (2002) a support system was set up for low income mothers encouraging them to breast-feed longer. “Women receiving the [support] breast-fed longer that women not receiving the support” (Bronner et al, 2002). Little education and knowledge being the reason low-income mother do not continue to breast-feed, their children are missing the benefits of breast milk. Although low-income mother’s used lack of education as an excuse, Mothers with at least a bachelor’s degree experience breast and nipple pain and therefore cease to breast-feed (Bobo et al, 2002). So with all this research, we hope that the duration of breast-feeding will have more than just cognitive effects of the child. Although it was hard to find exact research about the duration of breastfeeding and the incidence of smoking, we piece together all of the separate research to help our study. Our entire hypothesis is based on Freud’s theory of fixation “unsuccessful attempts to master a particular stage [which] later become apparent with time of difficulty”(Blum, 1966). Freud feels that fixation comes with either over indulgence or deprivation will lead to infantile trauma, resulting in such a fixation (Blum 1966). We hypothesize that duration of breast-feeding, whether longer or shorter than average (taken after the study is complete) will have a curvilinear relationship with the incidence of smoking in later years.

Participants Eighty-seven undergraduate students from Loyola University of New Orleans volunteered to participate in this study, 46 females and 41 males. Volunteers were treated according to set up approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).Materials Variable one was duration of breast-feeding, and variable two was the incidence of smoking in the participant. The survey was made up by the principle researchers based on research previously listed, and simple questions were made to find the exact information needed to analyze the relationship between the two variables. Several questions were asked about one’s smoking style as well as the question regarding breast-feeding: Were you breast-fed? If so, how long? Design and procedure A non-experimental self report was used to determine the relationship with the variables. The investigators, either all or some, met the participants at a location convenient to both the researcher and the participant. Testing occurred during the end of October and the beginning of November 2003. The participants were explained the study and given an informed consent form to fill out. The participants were then given the study and asked to fill it out to the best of their ability. A cellular phone was present incase the participant needed to call a guardian for the answer to the questions regarding the duration of which they were breast-fed. At the end of the cession, the principle investigators revealed the hypothesis, no debriefing was necessary.

The mean age of the participants was 19.7 and 68 of the 87 participants are self-proclaimed smokers now or at one point of their life. Of the 68 smokers, only 42 currently smoke, and only 15 of those current smokers recognize smoking every day as their smoking style. Seventy-two percent of the participants were breast-fed. The mean of the duration of breast-feeding was 7.98 months. The one-way ANOVA test run to compare the two groups, duration of breast-feeding scores and the incidence of smoking scores, produced no significant results F(2, 67) = .337, ns. The duration of breast-feeding was broken down into three equal groups, below average (<6 months), average (6-9 months), and above average (>9 months).The starting age of smoking in comparison with the duration of breast-feeding produced no significant results F(2,45) = .169, ns. Of the participants who fell into the below average group, 62% were smokers. Seventy percent of the average group were smokers and 59% of the above average group smoked. The hypothesis of this study was that the duration of breast-feeding, whether below or above average, would have a curvilinear relationship with the incidence of smoking in later years. According to the results the hypothesis was not supported finding no significant relationship when comparing the two subject variables.

The original hypothesis stating that the duration of breast-feeding would have a curvilinear relationship with the incidence of smoking later on was not supported. In a bizarre finding, a significant relationship was found between having a family member who smoked and an above average amount of breast-feeding p = .03, p <.05. According to UNICEF (2002), the suggested amount of breast-feeding is six months or more; the mean of duration of breast-feeding was over seven months, which is in accordance to the recommended amount. Because of problems with the study, it is nearly impossible to compare this study with past research. Although the past research showed that the most noted reason for smoking was psychological addiction (Jenks, 1992) this study did not focus on reasons for smoking because a link was trying to be made with the duration of breast-feeding. Bronner et al.(2002) showed that women with a support system were more likely to breast-feed, this study did not look at the support the mother was given, only the duration, this past research does not fit into this study. No information involving the two variables in a study was found, this proved to be the biggest difficulty in researching the topic. Another problem encountered in this study came in regards to the duration of breast-feeding, many of the participants did not know how long they were breast-fed, which was expected. It was not anticipated that locating a source of this information, such as a parent, would be difficult. The phone was used and many times the participant could not reach their parent or their parent could not recollect the information. In these instances the participant had to withdraw. Many participants had questions regarding the survey and felt that at some points it was confusing. Perhaps the biggest problem of the study was what was used to measure the oral fixation, and smoking is the only self-reported way to measure, so smoking was used. Possibly in a behavior observation study, another way to measure oral fixation would be more fit to see if under or over indulgence of gratification, the breast-feeding, early in life actually does lead to any oral fixation, including but not exclusive to smoking, as Freud believed. Many improvements would be made if this study were to be attempted again. First off, many more participants would be needed to see if there are different results in a larger population. A better survey would be needed to more clearly guide the participant through the questions. In addition, maybe a more accurate way to measure oral fixations could be found, including but not exclusive to smoking. Essentially as learned smoking is not the only oral fixation, rather the one that can be reported by the participant. If other oral fixations were measured, maybe a closer link could be found between breast-feeding and its effects. Although the topic is interesting not many ideas for new research are found. Along with positive cognitive effects of breast-feeding on children later in their lives, this study hoped to show that there was a relationship between the duration of breast-feeding and the incidence of smoking in later years. Moreover, it cannot be said that there is any relationship between the duration of breast-feeding and the incidence of smoking later in life found in this study. Although this study aimed to support Sigmund Freud’s theory behind oral fixations, no such support can be made. There are no practical implications that can be made deriving from the hypothesis, only that breast-feeding does not have an effect on a person’s smoking habits in the future.

Anderson, M. J., Bor, W., Najman, J. M., O’Callaghan, M., Quinn, P. J., Williams, G. M. The Effects of Breastfeeding On Child Development at 5 years. (Child Health, 2001 37, 465-469.)Blum, G. S. (1966) Psychodynamics: The Science of Unconscious Mental Forces. Belmont, California. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc. Bobo, J., D’Arcy, H. J. , Foxman, B., Gillespie, B., Longeway, M., Schwartz, K. Factors Associated in the First Three Months Post Pardum. (The Journal of Family Practice) May 2002 Vol 51, No. 5Bronner, Y., Frick, K. D., Milligan, R. A., Pugh, L. C., Spatz, D.(2002) Breastfeeding Duration, Costs, and Benefits of a Support Program for Low Income Breastfeeding Women. (Birth 29:2 June 2002) Blackwell Publishing, Inc 2002Dettwyler, K., (2003) A Natural Age of Weaning. Retrieved September 29, 2003, From Http://www.prairienet.org/laleche/detwean.htmlFreud, S. (1905). Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,( Standard Edition7:122-243). London, England: Hogarth Press, 1953McGee, R., & Stanton, W. R., (1993). A Longitudinal Study of Reasons for Smoking in Adolescence. (Addiction 88, 265-271)Schmid, H. P. (2001). Predictors of cigarette Smoking by Young Adults and Rediness to Change.(Substance Use and Misuse, 36 1519-1542) Switzerland: Marcel Dekker, Inc.UNICEF (2002) Innocent Declaration on the Protection, Promotion, and Support of Breastfeeding. Florance, Italy, 1990. Retrieved September 19, 2003 from http://infactcanada.ca/whocode/innocent.html

Submitted 12/10/2003 7:25:09 PM
Last Edited 12/10/2003 7:29:46 PM
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