Reliability of reported breastfeeding duration among reproductive-aged women from Mexico

Matern Child Nutr. 2009 Apr;5(2):125-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2008.00159.x.


Breastfed children have lower risk of infectious diseases, post-neonatal mortality and chronic diseases later in life. Because epidemiologic studies usually rely on reported history of previous breastfeeding, data on the accuracy and precision of recalled histories allow improved interpretation of the epidemiologic findings. We evaluated the reliability of two reported breastfeeding durations in 567 reproductive-aged women from Mexico using information obtained from nearly identical sets of questions applied at different times after weaning. We compared differences between reports, and examined the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for any and for exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the determinants of poor recall (difference between reports of >20%). The reliability of duration of any breastfeeding was high (ICC 0.94). Overall, differences between reports of duration were usually <1 month, and for 385/567, the difference was < or =0.5 months. Predictors of poorer recall were having > or =4 children, and time between reports of >2 months. The only predictor of better recall was greater age of the baby at weaning. The reliability of EBF duration was lower (ICC 0.49). In this population with a relatively long duration of breastfeeding, reliability of any breastfeeding duration was high. Age, education and previous breastfeeding were not important predictors of recall, in contrast to findings in earlier studies. Consistent with previous reports, however, parity and length of recall were associated with poorer recall of duration of any breastfeeding. Future studies that use reported breastfeeding duration may want to consider the effect of these variables on recall.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Birth Weight
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Mexico
  • Poverty
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Population
  • Weaning