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Public Health Nutrition (June) 13(6): 760-770. DOI:10.1017/S1368980009991522 Available from the Publisher here


Objective: To assess breast-feeding initiation and prevalence from birth to 6 months in a sample of mothers in Dublin, and to determine the factors associated with breast-feeding initiation and ‘any’ breast-feeding at 6 weeks in a sample of Irish-national mothers. Design: This prospective cross-sectional study involved the recruitment of women during the antenatal period, with subsequent follow-up of mothers who delivered healthy, term singleton infants, at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum. Setting: Participants were recruited from antenatal clinics in the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin. Subjects: In all, 401 Irish-national and forty-nine non-Irish-national mothers met the criteria for inclusion in the present study. Results: Breast-feeding initiation rates of the Irish-national and non-Irish-nationals were 47% and 79?6%, respectively. Factors that were significantly (P50?000) associated with both breast-feeding initiation and ‘any’ breast-feeding at 6 weeks included mothers who were $35 years, educated to third level, reported positive postnatal encouragement to breast-feed from their partners and had a positive antenatal intention to breast-feed. The maternal negative perception that breastfeeding is an embarrassing way to feed an infant was demonstrated as a major barrier to initiation. Conclusions: Breast-feeding initiation and prevalence rates of the Irish-national population remain low and lag considerably behind national and international targets. Inclusion of the partner in breast-feeding promotional initiatives during the antenatal period may be crucial to increase breast-feeding rates in Ireland. Public health campaigns that focus on increasing the social acceptability of breastfeeding may prove effective in addressing this cultural barrier.



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