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Breastfeeding rates in maternity units

More than two thirds of the infants (69%) were breastfed in maternity units (60% exclusively, 9% partially). At 1 month, over half of them (54%) were breastfed and only 35% exclusively.

Using data from the French survey EPIFANE on feeding practices of infants during their first year of life, our objectives were to describe breastfeeding rates at birth and at 1 month, and their trends across mothers’ characteristics.

The EPIFANE survey was based on a 2-stage stratified random sample of infants born between 16 January and 5 April 2012 in 136 maternity wards in mainland France. Milk feeding data were collected during the maternity stay using a self-completed questionnaire, and at one month by phone interview.

More than two thirds of the infants (69%) were breastfed in maternity units (60% exclusively, 9% partially). At 1 month, over half of them (54%) were breastfed and only 35% exclusively. Breastfeeding rates varied according to the mother‘s age, marital status, education, birthplace, body mass index and smoking status during pregnancy. Moreover, attending delivery preparation courses, early skin-to-skin contact and partner positive perception of breastfeeding were positively associated with breastfeeding in maternity units and at one month.

Actions to promote breastfeeding should be particularly focused on the rapidly decreasing rates of breastfeeding as early as the first week after delivery. They should specifically target young mothers and those with a low educational level. Modifiable factors as identified here provide intervention perspective for further evaluation.

Source: BEH/ EPIFANE survey, France, 2012

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