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Nutrients 2014, 6, p.1832-1849.


Early nutrition plays a pivotal role in long-term health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life, with the gradual introduction of solids after this period. However, studies in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have shown poor compliance with guidelines. The ROI continues to have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates worldwide. Our objective was to analyse differences in breastfeeding and complimentary feeding behaviours between Irish and non-Irish mothers residing in the ROI, as well as the role of acculturation on these behaviours, using the national longitudinal study, Growing Up in Ireland (GUI). Mothers (n = 11,134) residing in the ROI were interviewed when their infants were nine months of age. The percentage of Irish mothers who initiated breastfeeding was 49.5%, as opposed to 88.1% among the non-Irish cohort (p < 0.001). Breastfeeding initiation reduced from 89.4% of non-Irish mothers who had arrived within the last year to five years ago to 67.5% for those who had arrived 11 to >20 years ago (p < 0.001). Our results indicate that cultural differences are an important factor in shaping patterns of infant feeding in the ROI. Reviewing existing support and education policies for parents is required to achieve the implementation of desirable infant feeding practices.


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