MJA
MJA

Socioeconomic status and rates of breastfeeding in Australia: evidence from three recent national health surveys

Med J Aust 2008; 189 (5): 254-256.

Summary

Objective: To investigate whether the relationship between socioeconomic status and breastfeeding initiation and duration changed in Australia between 1995 and 2004.

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.

Main outcome measures: Rates of initiation of breastfeeding; rates of breastfeeding at 3, 6 and 12 months.

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.

  • Lisa H Amir1,2,3
  • Susan M Donath4,5

  • 1 Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Medical One — QV, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Breastfeeding Education and Support Services, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 5 Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.

Correspondence: l.amir@latrobe.edu.au

Competing interests:

None identified.

  • 1. Ladomenou F, Kafatos A, Galanakis E. Risk factors related to intention to breastfeed, early weaning and suboptimal duration of breastfeeding. Acta Paediatr 2007; 96: 1441-1444.
  • 2. Bonet M, Kaminski M, Blondel B. Differential trends in breastfeeding according to maternal and hospital characteristics: results from the French National Perinatal Surveys. Acta Paediatr 2007; 96: 1290-1295.
  • 3. Taylor JS, Risica PM, Geller L, et al. Duration of breastfeeding among first-time mothers in the United States: results of a national survey. Acta Paediatr 2006; 95: 980-984.
  • 4. Gudnadottir M, Gunnarsson BS, Thorsdottir I. Effects of sociodemographic factors on adherence to breastfeeding and other important infant dietary recommendations. Acta Paediatr 2006; 95: 419-424.
  • 5. Li R, Darling N, Maurice E, et al. Breastfeeding rates in the United States by characteristics of the child, mother or family: the 2002 National Immunization Survey. Pediatrics 2005; 115: e31-e37.
  • 6. Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: users’ guide, 1995. Canberra: ABS, 1995. (ABS Cat. No. 4363.0.)
  • 7. Donath S, Amir LH. Rates of breastfeeding in Australia by state and socioeconomic status: evidence from the 1995 National Health Survey. J Paediatr Child Health 2000; 36: 164-168.
  • 8. Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: users’ guide, 2001. Canberra: ABS, 2001. (ABS Cat. No. 4363.0.55.001.)
  • 9. Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: users’ guide, 2004–05. Canberra: ABS, 2006. (ABS Cat. No. 4363.0.55.001.)
  • 10. Nicholson JM, Sanson A; LSAC Research Consortium. A new longitudinal study of the health and wellbeing of Australian children: how will it help? Med J Aust 2003; 178: 282-284. <MJA full text>
  • 11. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Information paper: Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, Australia, 2001. Canberra: ABS, 2001. (ABS Cat. No. 2039.0.) http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/09D 68973F50B8258CA2573F0000DA181?opendocument (accessed Jul 2008).
  • 12. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Information paper: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas. Canberra: ABS, 1990. (ABS Cat. No 1356.0.)
  • 13. Graham H. Socio-economic change and inequalities in men and women’s health in the UK. In: Nettleton S, Gustafsson U, editors. The sociology of health and illness reader. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002: 240-255.
  • 14. Marmot M. Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet 2005; 365: 1099-1104.
  • 15. Coveney J. A qualitative study exploring socio-economic differences in parental lay knowledge of food and health: implications for public health nutrition. Public Health Nutr 2005; 8: 290-297.
  • 16. Mitra AK, Khoury AJ, Hinton AW, Carothers C. Predictors of breastfeeding intention among low-income women. Matern Child Health J 2004; 8: 65-70.
  • 17. McIntyre E, Hiller JE, Turnbull D. Determinants of infant feeding practices in a low socio-economic area: identifying environmental barriers to breastfeeding. Aust N Z J Public Health 1999; 23: 207-209.
  • 18. McIntyre E, Turnbull D, Hiller JE. Breastfeeding in public places. J Hum Lact 1999; 15: 131-135.
  • 19. McIntyre E, Hiller JE, Turnbull D. Attitudes towards infant feeding among adults in a low socioeconomic community: what social support is there for breastfeeding? Breastfeed Rev 2001; 9: 13-24.
  • 20. Amir LH, Donath SM. Does maternal smoking have a negative physiological effect on breastfeeding? The epidemiological evidence. Birth 2002; 29: 112-123.
  • 21. Khoury AJ, Moazzem SW, Jarjoura CM, et al. Breast-feeding initiation in low-income women: role of attitudes, support, and perceived control. Womens Health Issues 2005; 15: 64-72.
  • 22. Amir LH, Donath SM. A systematic review of maternal obesity and breastfeeding intention, initiation and duration. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2007; 7: 9.
  • 23. James WP, Nelson M, Ralph A, Leather S. Socioeconomic determinants of health. The contribution of nutrition to inequalities in health. BMJ 1997; 314: 1545-1549.
  • 24. Sikorski J, Renfrew MJ, Pindoria S, Wade A. Support for breastfeeding mothers: a systematic review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002; (2): CD001141.
  • 25. Dennis CL, Hodnett E, Gallop R, Chalmers B. The effect of peer support on breast-feeding duration among primiparous women: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ 2002; 166: 21-28.
  • 26. Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Health Budget 2007–2008. Breastfeeding — education and support. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/budget/publishing.nsf/Content/budget2007-hfact37.htm (accessed Jul 2008).
  • 27. Boyd R, McIntyre E. Improving community acceptance of breastfeeding in public: a collaborative approach. Breastfeed Rev 2004; 12: 5-10.
  • 28. Baby Friendly Health Initiative. Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in Australia. Current Baby Friendly accredited health services in Australia. http://www.bfhi.org.au/text/bfhi_hospitals.html (accessed Jul 2008).

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article