Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and predictors of 6-month exclusive breastfeeding among Canadian women: a national survey

Ban Al-Sahab1*, Andrea Lanes1, Mark Feldman2 and Hala Tamim1

Author Affiliations

1 Kinesiology & Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Community Paediatrics, University of Toronto & Department of Paediatrics, St Joseph's Health Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:20  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-20

Published: 8 April 2010

Abstract

Background

In spite of the evidence supporting the importance of breastfeeding during the first year of life, data on breastfeeding practices remain limited in Canada. The study aimed to examine the prevalence and predictors of 6-month exclusive breastfeeding among Canadian women.

Methods

The analysis was based on the Maternity Experience Survey targeting women aged ≥ 15 years who had singleton live births between February 2006 - May 2006 in the Canadian provinces and November 2005 - February 2006 in the territories. The main outcome was exclusive breastfeeding based on the World Health Organization definition. Socioeconomic, demographic, maternal, pregnancy and delivery related variables were considered for a multivariate logistic regression using stepwise modeling. Bootstrapping was performed to account for the complex sampling design.

Results

The sample size in this study was 5,615 weighted to represent 66,810 Canadian women. While ever breastfeeding was 90.3%, the 6-month exclusive breastfeeding rate was 13.8%. Based on the regression model, having higher years of education, residing in the Northern territories and Western provinces, living with a partner, having had previous pregnancies, having lower pre-pregnancy body mass index and giving birth at older age were associated with increased likelihood of 6-month exclusive breastfeeding. Moreover, smoking during pregnancy, Caesarean birth, infant's admission to the intensive care unit and maternal employment status before 6 months of infant's age were negatively associated with exclusive breastfeeding. Mothers choosing to deliver at home were more likely to remain exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months (Odds Ratio: 5.29, 95% Confidence Interval: 2.95-9.46).

Conclusions

The 6-month exclusive breastfeeding rate is low in Canada. The study results constitute the basis for designing interventions that aim to bridge the gap between the current practices of breastfeeding and the World Health Organization recommendation.