Acculturation and the initiation of breastfeeding

David K. Rassin, Kyriakos S. Markides, Tom Baranowski, C. Joan Richardson, William D. Mikrut, David E. Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Despite the fact that breastfeeding is the most appropriate form of nutrition for the healthy term infant, the rate of initiation in the U.S. is declining. One demographic factor associated with this low rate is ethnicity and so in this study we measured acculturation (one aspect of ethnicity) into the U.S. and its relationship to the successful initiation of breastfeeding in a sample of women recruited approximately 2 months prenatally in a U.S.-Mexico border city. Interviews were administered in English or Spanish by bilingual interviewers prenatally (n = 906), natally (n = 788), and postnatally (n = 715). Acculturation (measured with a 20 item instrument) was strongly related to the intent to (p < 0.001) or the successful initiation of breastfeeding (p < 0.001). Marital status (p = 0.014) and education (p = 0.002) were related to breastfeeding prenatally and natally. Initiation of breastfeeding was highest among those women least acculturated (52.9%) and lowest in those most acculturated (36.1 %) indicating an inhibiting effect of acculturation. To improve the rate of initiation of breastfeeding in the U.S. (a national health goal) intervention programs must consider cultural factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-746
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • Acculturation
  • Breastfeeding
  • Health
  • Hispanic health
  • Infant nutrition
  • U.S.-Mexico border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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