Does Breastfeeding Behavior Run in Families? Evidence From Twins, Their Sisters and Their Mothers in the Netherlands
Twin Research and Human Genetics
The aim of the present article was to study the prevalence and the heritability of the initiation of breastfeeding in the Netherlands. The study was carried out in 5,581 participants from the Netherlands Twin Register, and included female twins, their sisters and mothers. All of the participants were born between 1911 and 1991. Breastfeeding was self-reported by the participants, and its prevalence was estimated conditional on birth cohort (born before 1955, 1955–1964, 1965–1974, 1975, or
... 974, 1975, or later). To estimate the heritability, we conducted extended twin-family modeling using the SEM package OpenMx in R. Mothers of twins had lower prevalence to initiate breastfeeding and the prevalence of initiation of breastfeeding increased with birth cohort: among mothers of twins 66% in the oldest (pre-1955) to 74% in the youngest (post-1974) and among mothers, who were twins themselves or sisters of twins, 79% in the oldest (pre-1955) to 85% in the youngest (post-1974). When accounting for prevalence differences between mothers of twins and other women, heritability of initiation of breastfeeding was 70%. However, the familial resemblance for sister and mother-daughter pairs was clearly lower than for DZ twin pairs, but as the number of non-twin sisters was relatively low, this observation did not lead to a significant contribution of a special shared twin environment.