Incidence of breast-feeding in a low socioeconomic group of mothers in the United States: Ethnic patterns

D. K. Rassin, J. Richardson, T. Baranowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Breast-feeding has been shown to have increased in incidence during recent years in the United States. However, this increase is not particulary 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 breast-feed. Using the χ2 test for equality of proportions, marital statis, 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 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 of 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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