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Patterns and predictors of exclusive breastfeeding in Chinese Australian mothers: a cross sectional study

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BACKGROUND: While exclusive breastfeeding is recommended to 6 months of age, just 15% of mothers in Australia achieve this. The rate appears to be even lower among mothers born in China, where 90% have introduced infant formula by this time. This study aimed to examine infant feeding patterns in the first 12 months of life and the factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding at 4 months of age and infant formula introduction by 1 month of age among Chinese Australian mothers. METHODS: Chinese Australian women with a child aged 1 to 4 years born in Australia were recruited through social media and asked to complete an online survey. Chinese ethnicity was defined as the mother or her parents having been born in mainland China, Taiwan or Hong Kong. Infant feeding practices since birth and a range of psychosocial and cultural factors were assessed. A total of 289 Chinese Australian mothers completed the survey. The relationships between exposure variables and exclusive breastfeeding at 4 months or infant formula use by 1 month were examined using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS: Almost all (93%) mothers initiated breastfeeding, however by 1 month of age exclusive breastfeeding rates reduced to 44%, with a further decline to 33 and 18% at 4 and 6 months respectively. Concurrently, 7% of parents reported infant formula feeding at birth increasing to 55 and 63% at 1 and 6 months of age respectively. The rates of any breastfeeding were 81% at 6 months and 50% at 12 months of age. Breastfeeding intention, self-efficacy and awareness of the infant feeding guidelines were key factors associated with sustained exclusive breastfeeding to 4 months. CONCLUSIONS: While Chinese Australian mothers had comparable exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months to the general Australian population, twice as many had introduced infant formula by 1 month of age. There is an urgent need to support Chinese Australian mothers in the perinatal period to strengthen their knowledge, intention and confidence to delay early introduction of infant formula and promote exclusive breastfeeding in the early postpartum period.

History

Journal

International breastfeeding journal

Volume

15

Article number

61

Pagination

1 - 15

Publisher

BioMed Central

Location

London, Eng.

eISSN

1746-4358

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal