The effect of time in the U.S. on the duration of breastfeeding in women of Mexican descent

Matern Child Health J. 2007 Mar;11(2):119-25. doi: 10.1007/s10995-006-0152-5. Epub 2007 Feb 6.


Objectives: Although women of Mexican decent have high rates of breastfeeding, these rates may vary considerably by acculturation level. This study investigated whether increased years of residence in the U.S. is associated with poorer breastfeeding practices, including shorter duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding, in a population of low-income mothers of Mexican descent.

Methods: Pregnant women (n = 490) were recruited from prenatal clinics serving a predominantly Mexican-origin population in an agricultural region of California. Women were interviewed during pregnancy, shortly postpartum, and when their child was 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3.5 years of age.

Results: Increased years of residence in the U.S. was associated with decreased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding and shorter duration of exclusive and any breastfeeding. Median duration of exclusive breastfeeding was 2 months for women living in the U.S. for 5 years or less, 1 month for women living in the U.S. for 6 to 10 years, and less than one week for women living in the U.S. for 11 years or more, or for their entire lives (lifetime residents). After controlling for maternal age, education, marital status and work status, lifetime residents of the U.S. were 2.4 times more likely to stop breastfeeding, and 1.5 times more likely to stop exclusive breastfeeding, than immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for 5 years or less.

Conclusions: Efforts are needed to encourage and support Mexican-origin women to maintain their cultural tradition of breastfeeding as they become more acculturated in the U.S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / ethnology*
  • California
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mexican Americans*
  • Rural Population
  • Time Factors