Design and setting: Secondary analysis of data from national health surveys (NHSs) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1995, 2001 and 2004–05. The Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) classification was used as a measure of socioeconomic status.
Results: Between the 1995 and 2004–05 NHSs, there was little change in overall rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration. In 2004–05, breastfeeding initiation was 87.8%, and the proportions of infants breastfeeding at 3, 6 and 12 months were 64.4%, 50.4% and 23.3%, respectively. In 1995, the odds ratio (OR) of breastfeeding at 6 months increased by an average of 13% (OR, 1.13 [95% CI, 1.07–1.19]) for each increase in SEIFA quintile; in 2001, the comparative increase was 21% (OR, 1.21 [95% CI, 1.12–1.30]); while in 2004–05, the comparative increase was 26% (OR, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.17–1.36]). Breastfeeding at 3 months and 1 year showed similar changes in ORs. There was little change in the ORs for breastfeeding initiation.
Conclusion: Although overall duration of breastfeeding remained fairly constant in Australia between 1995 and 2004–05, the gap between the most disadvantaged and least disadvantaged families has widened considerably over this period.
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