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Types of drinks consumed by infants at 4 and 8 months of age: sociodemographic variations

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To investigate the variations in sociodemographic characteristics of mothers in relation to the types of milk and supplementary drinks consumed by their infants at 4 and 8 months of age. Study design

The carers of a randomly chosen population sample of over 1000 infants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC) were asked to record all foods and drinks consumed by the child in a 24-h period at both 4 and 8 months of age. Self-completion postal questionnaires were used to ascertain sociodemographic characteristics of the mothers and their infants. Methods

Significant differences in the types of milks and supplementary drinks consumed within sociodemographic groups were identified. Infants were also grouped according to the types of milks they were receiving at each age and further differences in sociodemographic characteristics were investigated. Results

Highly significant differences existed among various sociodemographic characteristics with regard to the types of drinks used at both ages. Maternal educational level was the most influential of the sociodemographic variables in explaining the differences in consumption of all types of drinks given at 4 months, in particular for breast milk use. Maternal age was also significantly associated with breast feeding. The use of fruit drinks was significantly associated with the presence of older siblings in the family and the use of herbal drinks with the duration of breast feeding. At 8 months of age maternal educational level was again the most highly associated of the sociodemographic variables, being significantly associated with the use of most of the drinks. The presence of older siblings also had a significant independent effect as did duration of breast feeding. The feeding of cows’ (or animal) milk as a main drink at 8 months, contrary to recommendation, was most likely in the group of mothers with vocational education, those in council accommodation, those with two or more children and those with difficulty affording food. Conclusion

We have identified certain characteristics of mothers who were more likely than others not to follow current recommendations on infant feeding. The educational level of mothers appears to be of major significance in the choices made about the types of drinks given to infants. It may be possible to target information about infant feeding to certain groups of mothers thus improving weaning patterns.
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Keywords: breast; formula; milk; sociodemographic characteristics; supplementary drinks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Unit of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, Bristol, UK

Publication date: 01 April 2000

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