Breastfeeding by Aboriginal mothers in Perth
Binns, C. W., Gilchrist, D., Woods, B., Gracey, M., Scott, J., Smith, H., et al. (2006), Breastfeeding by Aboriginal mothers in Perth. Nutrition and Dietetics, 63(1), 8–14. doi:10.1111/j.1747-0080.2006.00032.x
Objective: To document the breastfeeding practices of Aboriginal mothers delivering in Perth.
Design and methods: A cohort of mothers was followed from the time of delivery for six months to obtain details of infant feeding practices.
Subjects: A total of 455 mothers delivered during the study period and were asked to participate. A total of 425 mothers completed the initial questionnaire.
Setting: The study was undertaken in six public hospitals in Perth, Western Australia.
Data analyses: The data were analysed using spss. Breastfeeding duration was calculated using Kaplan–Meier survival analysis.
Main outcome measures: Breastfeeding initiation and duration.
Results: The mean age of the Aboriginal mothers was 21.8 years (range 14–39 years, SD 5.32) and the average gestational age was 38.3 weeks. Almost 50% of the mothers in the study delivered by Caesarean section. At discharge from hospital 89.4% (CI 86.6–92.1) of mothers were breastfeeding, declining to 58.8% (CI 53.5–64.1) at six months. When compared with non-Aboriginal mothers, the Aboriginal breastfeeding rates were higher than the non-Aboriginal average breastfeeding rates, but lower than the highest socioeconomic group.
Conclusions: The breastfeeding rates of Aboriginal mothers are higher than for other Australians. This is despite the low maternal age and level of education and the high rates of low-birth-weight infants and Caesarean section among this population. The World Health Organization recommendation for infant feeding is exclusive breastfeeding until six months, but less than one-third of Aboriginal mothers achieved this recommendation.