Purpose: Factors associated with early cessation of breastfeeding were identified and patterns of infant feeding were examined. Feeding practices were compared with the 1998 guidelines in Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants and with recent Health Canada recommendations.
Methods: To recruit participants, a letter was sent to every mother (n=424) who gave birth at Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton from April 1998 to February 1999. Eighty-five mothers agreed to participate with their infants. Information on infant feeding patterns and socioeconomic background was gathered with semi-structured questionnaires. Only healthy infants from singleton pregnancies were included in this study.
Results: At birth, almost 83% of infants were breastfed. The proportions of infants breastfed for at least four, six, and nine months were 43%, 22%, and 9%, respectively. As many as 34% of infants were introduced to baby cereals before age four months, and 21% were introduced to cow's milk before age nine months. Lower family income, lower level of parental education, and reduced postpartum hemoglobin level (below 95 g/L) were associated with discontinuation of breastfeeding before infants were four months old.
Conclusions: Early postpartum nutrition interventions may be effective in ensuring follow-up care for mothers with compromised iron status, in supporting breastfeeding for at least six months, and in promoting better infant feeding practices.