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Early Postpartum Breastfeeding and Acculturation among Hispanic Women

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Background: Exclusive breastfeeding in the hospital is predictive of postpartum breastfeeding patterns. Although breastfeeding rates are similar for Hispanic and white women in the United States, evidence shows that more acculturated Hispanic mothers have lower rates of breastfeeding than those less acculturated. To date, no studies have examined whether this pattern exists in the immediate postpartum period.Methods: We used medical record data from 1,635 participants in the San Diego Birth Center Study, a cohort study of low-income, low-risk pregnant women. We applied a proxy measure of acculturation to categorize participants into a low acculturation (Hispanic, Spanish speaking [n = 951]); high acculturation (Hispanic, English speaking [n = 408]); or white, English speaking (n = 276) group. Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between acculturation and exclusive breastfeeding at the time of hospital discharge while controlling for potential confounders.Results: Exclusive breastfeeding rates were significantly different across acculturation groups (p < 0.01). After adjusting for available confounding variables, women in the low acculturation group were more likely to breastfeed exclusively at discharge than those in the high acculturation group (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.01–1.84). Women in the white, English-speaking group also had greater odds of exclusive breastfeeding when compared with those in the high acculturation group (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.02–2.19).Conclusions: This cross-sectional study provides evidence of a correlation between acculturation and immediate postpartum breastfeeding, where higher acculturation is associated with lower odds of exclusive breastfeeding. Additional research is needed to understand how the process of acculturation may affect short- and long-term breastfeeding behavior. (BIRTH 34:4 December 2007)
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Keywords: Hispanic; acculturation; breastfeeding; low risk; postpartum

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Jessica R. Gorman is a Doctoral Candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Health Behavior) at the University of California at San Diego/San Diego State University 2: Debra J. Jackson is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. 3: Theodore G. Ganiats is a Professor and Executive Director of the Health Services Research Center 4: Eyla Boies is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, California, USA

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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