Prevalence of breastfeeding and acculturation in Hispanics: results from NHANES 1999-2000 study

Birth. 2005 Jun;32(2):93-8. doi: 10.1111/j.0730-7659.2005.00351.x.


Background: A more current estimate to evaluate ethnic and acculturation differences in breastfeeding is warranted, given the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the United States and the proliferation of breastfeeding promotion programs. The study objective was to describe current national estimates of the prevalence of breastfeeding and evaluate differences in reasons not to breastfeed by acculturation status.

Methods: Secondary data analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000 was performed on a nationally representative sample of non-Hispanic white women born in the U.S. and Hispanic women with at least one live birth. Acculturation status among Hispanics was assessed using a validated language scale, and prevalence of breastfeeding was based on maternal self-report.

Results: Prevalence of breastfeeding was higher in less acculturated Hispanic women (59.2%) than high acculturated Hispanic women (33.1%) and white women (45.1%). Less acculturated Hispanic women were more likely to cite their child's physical/medical condition as a reason not to breastfeed (53.1%), whereas whites and more acculturated Hispanics were more likely to cite their child preferred the bottle (57.5% and 49.8%, respectively). A logistic regression analysis revealed no significant differences in likelihood to breastfeed between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics after controlling for education, age, and income. Higher acculturated women were less likely to breastfeed their children than low acculturated women (95% CI: 0.14-0.40) even after education, age, and income were taken into account.

Conclusions: Acculturation differences in prevalence of breastfeeding and reasons not to breastfeed may be the result of attitudinal changes that occur due to acculturation. Further research into the acculturation process and its impact on breastfeeding may help to prevent the decline in breastfeeding that occurs as mothers become more acculturated. Meanwhile, patient education that addresses women's perceptions of the child's health condition and benefits of breastfeeding would be helpful.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / epidemiology*
  • Breast Feeding / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States / ethnology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data