Breastfeeding Prevalence among an Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo Population

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Abstract:

Breastfeeding provides valuable immunologic, nutritional, and psychological advantages to infants and is the most desirably complete diet for the infant during the first 6 months of life. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the prevalence of breastfeeding in a group of Alaskan Inupiat Eskimos, who live in northern Alaska. A convenience sample of 36 women making up three age cohorts was utilized (women ages 18 to 25, N=11; ages 26 to 40, N=14; ages 41 to 60, N=11). Data collected from these women on their choice of infant-feeding method contributed to measuring the prevalence of breastfeeding. Prevalence was also measured by categorizing the children of these women into three age groups and further classifying them as to how they were fed when they were infants. Statistical analysis was performed utilizing 95% confidence intervals. Results revealed that, in this sample and over the past 20 years, a substantial decline has occurred in the percentage of Inupiat infants exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months or longer. Data also indicated a downward trend in the percentage of mothers between the ages of 26 and 39 who initiate breastfeeding; however, among the mothers aged 18 to 25, data reflected a rising trend.

Keywords: Alaska Natives; Inupiat Eskimos; breastfeeding prevalence

Document Type: Standard Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1624/105812401X88020

Affiliations: 1: SUMMER CUTTING is a Family Nurse Practitioner in Anchorage, Alaska. 2: MARY BETH FLANDERS-STEPANS is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming.

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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