Previous studies have demonstrated a strong association between breastfeeding incidence and ethnic background, indicating the presence of strong cultural influences on infant-feeding patterns within ethnic groups. This study analyzed the relationship of acculturation into the United States, one aspect of ethnicity, to the initiation of breastfeeding among a sample of 213 women recruited approximately 2 months prenatally in the United States- Mexico border city of Brownsville, Texas. An in-depth, structured interview was conducted at that time (n = 213), at the time of birth (n = 207), and 2 to 3 weeks postnatally (n = 206). In addition, male partners of the mothers were interviewed prenatally when available (n = 119). Acculturation scores and demographic characteristics were tested relative to breastfeeding initiation. The degree of acculturation, age, and marital status were associated significantly with breastfeeding initiation (with breastfeeding continued at 2 to 3 weeks postnatally), but occupational status, education, and income were not. Breastfeeding incidence was highest among older, married, or low-acculturated, Anglo mothers. These data suggest that women being assimilated into the United States are inhibited in the initiation of breastfeeding. These findings suggest that to be successful, intervention programs to increase breastfeeding incidence must consider the cultural adaptation of different groups as they meld with the larger population.
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