The benefits of breastfeeding for the children's health have been highlighted in many studies. The innovative aspect of the present study lies in its use of a multilevel model, a technique that has rarely been applied to studies on breastfeeding. The data reported were collected from a larger study, the Family Budget Survey-Pesquisa de Orçamentos Familiares, carried out between 2002 and 2003 in Brazil that involved a sample of 48 470 households. A representative national sample of 1477 infants aged 0-6 months was used. The statistical analysis was performed using a multilevel model, with two levels grouped by region. In Brazil, breastfeeding prevalence was 58%. The factors that bore a negative influence on breastfeeding were over four residents living in the same household [odds ratio (OR) = 0.68, 90% confidence interval (CI) = 0.51-0.89] and mothers aged 30 years or more (OR = 0.68, 90% CI = 0.53-0.89). The factors that positively influenced breastfeeding were the following: higher socio-economic levels (OR = 1.37, 90% CI = 1.01-1.88), families with over two infants under 5 years (OR = 1.25, 90% CI = 1.00-1.58) and being a resident in rural areas (OR = 1.25, 90% CI = 1.00-1.58). Although majority of the mothers was aware of the value of maternal milk and breastfed their babies, the prevalence of breastfeeding remains lower than the rate advised by the World Health Organization, and the number of residents living in the same household along with mothers aged 30 years or older were both factors associated with early cessation of infant breastfeeding before 6 months.
© 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.