From dyad to triad: a survey on fathers’ knowledge and attitudes toward breastfeeding

Beatrice Letizia Crippa, Alessandra Consales, Daniela Morniroli, Flavia Lunetto, Maria Enrica Bettinelli, Patrizio Sannino, Serena Rampini, Lidia Zanotta, Paola Marchisio, Laura Plevani, Maria Lorella Giannì, Fabio Mosca, Lorenzo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fathers are known to impact breastfeeding outcomes. We aimed to explore paternal knowledge and attitude toward breastfeeding, and possible association with breastfeeding rates at discharge. In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled 200 fathers of healthy term neonates. At discharge, fathers were asked to rate their degree of agreement to 12 items on a 5-point Likert scale. A total score was obtained from their answers. Univariate binary logistic regression analysis was used to verify if the total score was predictive of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge. A multivariable logistic regression model was then used to adjust for possible confounders. ROC analysis was performed, and a Youden’s total score cut-off value was determined to define total score’s performance in predicting exclusive breastfeeding at discharge. Fathers showed a solid knowledge of maternal (87%) and neonatal (98%) benefits of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin (99.5%), rooming-in (79%), and responsive feeding (67.5%); conversely, only 51% knew about the recommended use of pacifiers. Fathers felt personally involved in babies’ feeding in 79% of cases. An association was found between total score and exclusive breastfeeding at discharge at univariate (OR: 1.07, p = 0.04) but not at multivariable analysis (OR: 1.07, p = 0.067). ROC analysis was not statistically significant (AUC 0.58, p = 0.083). Conclusion: By using a novel instrument aimed at quantifying fathers’ knowledge and overall attitude toward breastfeeding, this study underlines the importance of including fathers in the promotion of breastfeeding. Expanding the classic mother-baby dyad to a more modern mother-father-baby triad may impact breastfeeding outcomes at discharge.What is known:• Social support plays a major role in improving breastfeeding outcomes.• Fathers may greatly influence initiation and duration of breastfeeding; the more they know, the more helpful they can be.What is new:• A multidisciplinary team created a structured questionnaire aimed at quantifying fathers’ knowledge and attitude toward breastfeeding.• The association between a higher questionnaire total score and exclusive breastfeeding rates at discharge highlights the importance of including fathers in the promotion of breastfeeding, as part of the breastfeeding team.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2861-2869
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Attitude
  • Breastfeeding
  • Fathers
  • Knowledge
  • Paternal involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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