Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2007
To present current breast-feeding rates for Pacific infants resident in New Zealand. Reasons for the introduction of complementary liquid foods were also explored.
A longitudinal study using hospital discharge summary records and maternal home interviews undertaken at 6 weeks, 12 and 24 months postpartum. Turnbull's non-parametric survival analysis was used to model exclusive breast-feeding rates.
Auckland, New Zealand.
The cohort comprised 1376 infants at 6 weeks, 1223 infants at 12 months and 1142 infants at 24 months. Exclusive breast-feeding rates at hospital discharge, 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months postpartum were 84% (95% confidence interval (CI): 80–88%), 49% (95% CI: 43–55%), 37% (95% CI: 32–42%) and 9% (95% CI: 7–11%), respectively. Significant ethnic difference existed, with Samoan mothers having higher exclusive breast-feeding rates than Tongan mothers (P = 0.002). The percentage of infants receiving any breast milk at hospital discharge, 6 weeks, 12 and 24 months was 96% (95% CI: 94–97%), 95% (95% CI: 94–96%), 31% (95% CI: 28–34%) and 15% (95% CI: 13–17%), respectively. Again ethnic differences emerged. Common reasons cited for discontinuation of exclusive breast-feeding included uncertainty of breast milk supply (56%), problems with breasts (30%) and difficulties breast-feeding in work or educational environments (26%). However, 691 (50%) mothers sought no advice about their breast-feeding concerns within the first six weeks of life.
Exclusive breast-feeding rates for Pacific infants are ethnically heterogeneous, have declined since the 1990s and fall short of the World Health Organization recommendations. The principal reasons cited for exclusive breast-feeding discontinuation echo those reported over a decade ago.