Exclusive breastfeeding among Canadian Inuit: results from the Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey

J Hum Lact. 2014 May;30(2):229-41. doi: 10.1177/0890334413515752. Epub 2013 Dec 18.


Background: Very little population-based research has been conducted around the exclusive breastfeeding practices of Inuit Canadians.

Objectives: This research aims to assess the distribution of exclusive breastfeeding among Inuit Canadians and to identify factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding as recommended.

Methods: We use data from 188 infant-mother dyads who completed the Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, a cross-sectional, population-based survey of Inuit children aged 3 to 5 years. A series of multinomial logistic regression models were run to identify factors associated with 4 exclusive breastfeeding durations (≤ 1 month, > 1-< 5.5 months, 5.5-6.5 months, and > 6.5 months).

Results: Of infants, 23% were exclusively breastfed as recommended (ie, between 5.5 and 6.5 months; 95% CI, 16.2-29.3). Many infants (61%) were exclusively breastfed for less than 5.5 months and 16% (95% CI, 10.9-22.0) were exclusively breastfed for more than 6.5 months. Families receiving income support were less likely to discontinue exclusive breastfeeding before 5.5 months (pOR1- < 5.5 months = 0.34; 95% CI, 0.13, 0.85) relative to those not receiving income support, in adjusted models. No other measured factors were significantly related to exclusive breastfeeding duration.

Conclusions: The majority of Inuit Canadian infants receive suboptimal exclusive breastfeeding. National, provincial, and community-specific interventions to protect, promote, and support exclusive breastfeeding should emphasize not only the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding to 6 months but also the importance of timely introduction of complementary foods into the infant's diet.

Keywords: Aboriginal; Inuit; breastfeeding; epidemiology; exclusive breastfeeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / ethnology*
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Canada / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Financial Support
  • Humans
  • Inuits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires