Breast-feeding patterns in the Philippines: a prospective analysis

J Biosoc Sci. 1993 Jan;25(1):127-38. doi: 10.1017/s002193200002037x.


Data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey have been used to examine breast-feeding patterns in the Metropolitan Cebu region of the Philippines. The results show that there is extensive and early use of non-nutritive liquids, resulting in low levels of exclusive breast-feeding. The use of cross-sectional versus longitudinal data, the definition of exclusive breast-feeding, and movements in and out of the exclusively breast-fed category, are considered.

PIP: The Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey was the basis of this study of breast-feeding patterns in the Philippines in 1983-84. Data were obtained for 3080 single births during the 3rd week of pregnancy, within 3-5 weeks after birth, and at 2-month intervals for 2 years. Only 360 dropped out due to migration or other reasons. Nutrition information was collected on liquids and foods fed the infant on the day before the survey and the 7 days preceding it. Food models and measuring aids were used to assist in accurate measurement of quantities. Exclusive breast feeding meant only breast milk without liquid or food additions. The results showed the median duration of breast feeding to be 13.29 months for the Visayas region, of which Cebu is the central area, versus 12.28 for the entire country. The probability of breast feeding is expected and actually higher in rural areas, i.e., 12.09 for urban areas in the Visayas and 17.38 for rural areas in the Visayas versus 8.63 in urban areas and 12.96 in rural nationally. Data reflect heaping at 12, 18, and 24 months. The probabilities of breast feeding in urban areas of metropolitan Cebu were 87.5% and in rural areas 96.5%. Median durations of breast feeding for urban areas in metropolitan Cebu are 13.63 and 17.73 months in rural areas. Over the 2-year period there was a decline in the probability of breast feeding and a decrease in frequency of suckling. A seasonal pattern was apparent; August through November were maximum suckling times following by declines to a minimum in May. 33 minutes is the difference between minimum and maximum times. Patterns of breast feeding were established and examined: exclusively breast fed, breast milk and nonnutritive liquids, breast milk and other nutritive liquids, and no breast milk at all. At 2 months, 27% were exclusively breast fed, 19.8% received some nonnutritive liquids, and 38.1% received other nutritive liquids. Declines in some form of breast feeding occur from 63% at 12 months to 14.1% at 24 months. 1.4% were wet nursed. Feeding patterns change with age changes. The probability of breast feeding at any age is calculated based on life table analysis. Analysis of breast feeding activity should account for the variation in patterns.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Philippines
  • Prospective Studies