Breast-feeding has been shown to have increased in incidence during recent years in the United States. However, this increase is not particularly evident in lower socioeconomic groups. Factors associated with the decision to breast-feed or not were investigated in a population of 379 mothers. Self-completed questionnaires were obtained from 94.5% of these mothers. Data with respect to demographics, reproductive history, prenatal care, and education were collected. Only 27.2% of the study population indicated that they intended to breastfeed. Using the x2 test for equality of proportions, marital status, head of household, maternal and paternal ethnicity, maternal education, income, and number of pregnancy were found to be the most important variables associated with breast-feeding. The effect of ethnicity predominated over that of the other demographic variables when they were examined jointly within ethnic groups. The effect of ethnicity was apparent when the number of each ethnic group in the study population was compared with the percent of that group that intended to breast-feed: 145 Anglo-Americans, 43.5% breast-feeding; 131 black Americans, 9.2%; 62 Mexican Americans, 22.6%; 19 others, 42.1%. The importance of ethnicity in the decision to breast-feed has probably been underestimated. Efforts to increase breast-feeding in the United States ought to be designed with full consideration of this factor.
- Received July 1, 1982.
- Accepted April 29, 1983.
- Copyright © 1984 by the American Academy of Pediatrics