Breastfeeding times affected by ethnicity

A UNIVERSITY of Manchester study has found that mothers from ethnic minority groups are more likely to breast feed their children for longer.

The researchers say the findings are important since the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates worldwide. The UK Government recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Yet, in 2000, the UK ranked the second lowest among 32 countries in a WHO report, with a breastfeeding rate at six months of just 21 per cent.

Dr Arpana Verma from the School of Translational Medicine, and colleagues at the East Lancashire Primary Care Trust set out to determine the reasons for this, and to examine the effects of maternal factors and hospital infant-feeding practices on breastfeeding.

The group examined the effects of maternal socio-demographic factors, maternal obstetric factors and hospital feeding practices on breastfeeding discontinuation in mothers supported by a peer-support programme.

The results showed that ethnic group, mothers who had already given birth more than once, and hospital infant-feeding practices were the most important factors associated with length of breastfeeding period.

However, the study found no significant associations between discontinuing breastfeeding among these mothers supported by the peer-support programme and other recognised factors previously thought to be connected, such as marital status, mode of delivery, time taken to initiate breastfeeding after birth and socio-economic deprivation.

The study, which was published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, revealed that about 50 per cent of the mothers supported breastfed for more than 27 weeks. White mothers were 69 per cent more likely to stop breastfeeding compared with non-White mothers; they also breastfed for shorter durations compared with mothers from other ethnic groups.

Dr Verma said: “The results suggest that infant feeding practices associated with maternal ethnicity and previous experience of having children may be more difficult to influence by peer-support interventions.

“Peer-support programmes, particularly those in multi-ethnic settings, will need to identify the needs of their various client groups in order to appropriately support them to breastfeed longer.”

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2 Responses

  1. […] link: Breastfeeding times affected by ethnicity « Manchester Mouth Share and […]

  2. Breastfeeding has a variety of health benefits for both the mother and the infant. The World Heath Organization has a global strategy to encourage it, and Salma Hayek famously breastfed a baby in Africa.

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