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Predictors of breast-feeding in a developing country: results of a prospective cohort study

  • Ban Al-Sahab (a1), Hala Tamim (a1), Ghina Mumtaz (a2), Marwan Khawaja (a3), Mustafa Khogali (a4), Rima Afifi (a5), Yolla Nassif (a6), Khalid A Yunis (a2) and for the National Collaborative Perinatal Neonatal Network (NCPNN)...

Data on the prevalence and predictors of breast-feeding remain scarce in Lebanon. Moreover, no study has previously addressed the effect of the paediatrician’s sex on breast-feeding. The present study aimed to assess the prevalence and predictors of breast-feeding at 1 and 4 months of infant age while exploring the potential role of the sex of the paediatrician.


Prospective cohort study. Predictors of breast-feeding significant at the bivariate level were tested at 1 and 4 months through two stepwise regression models.


Infants were enrolled through the clinics and dispensaries of 117 paediatricians located in Beirut, Lebanon, and its suburbs.


A total of 1320 healthy newborn infants born between August 2001 and February 2002 were prospectively followed during the first year.


Breast-feeding rates at 1 and 4 months were 56·3 % and 24·7 %, respectively. Early discharge, high parity and religion were significantly associated with higher breast-feeding rates at 1 and 4 months of age. Maternal age proved significant only at 1 month, while maternal working status and sex of the paediatrician were significant at 4 months. A novel finding of our study was the positive effect of female paediatricians on breast-feeding continuation until 4 months of age (OR = 1·49; 95 % CI 1·03, 2·15).


Breast-feeding rates are low at 1 and 4 months of infant age in Beirut. Further research to investigate the interactions between female physicians and lactating mothers in maintaining breast-feeding in other populations is warranted. The results constitute the basis for designing interventions targeting policy makers, health professionals and mothers.

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Public Health Nutrition
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