Attitudes toward breast-feeding and infant feeding among Iranian, Afghan, and Southeast Asian immigrant women in the United States: implications for health and nutrition education

Ghaemi-Ahmadi, S.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association 92(3): 354-355


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-8223
PMID: 1552139
Document Number: 319701
A nutritionist analyzed data on 150 immigrant mothers living in California but from Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos who had participated in or were eligible for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), a US supplemental food program, to examine cultural and socioeconomic factors linked with breast feeding practices. 95% of the mothers had exclusively breast fed their infants in their countries compared to 32% after they arrived in the US In fact, 85% exclusively breast fed for at least 5 months in their countries whereas only 14% did so after coming to the US Further, after immigrating to the US, 38% fed their infants both breast milk and formula. Moreover 30% only offered their infants formula. In the US, 82% of Iranian mothers exclusively breast fed their infants compared to 42% of Afghan mothers, 14% of Vietnamese mothers, 19% of Laotian mothers, and 9% of Cambodian mothers (p.00001). Iranian mothers noted societal support for breast feeding in Iran by the postrevolutionary government, by the Moslem religion, and by support groups they formed in the US Mothers who exclusively breast fed their infants reported breast feeding to be more advantageous than the other groups (p.05). The cited advantages included bonding, best food for infant, protection against infection, and successful breast feeding in the past. Mothers who partially or exclusively used formula were more likely to have returned to school, had problems with the infant's presence, consider bottle feeding to be convenient, received free formula, and state economic reasons. Further those who exclusively breast fed were more likely to 1st breast feed their infant in the delivery room than were the other mothers (p.01). These results indicated that economic reasons were the main reason for not breast feeding. Besides US health care providers in the hospital or those involved in WIC did not provide substantial support for breast feeding. Sound recommendations concluded this report.

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