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Acculturation and Breast-Feeding Intention and Practice in Hispanic Women on the US-Mexico Border


Byrd, Theresa L.; Balcazar, Hector G.; & Hummer, Robert A. (2001). Acculturation and Breast-Feeding Intention and Practice in Hispanic Women on the US-Mexico Border. Ethnicity & Disease, 11(1), 72-79.


OBJECTIVES: To explore the extent to which acculturation indicators predict both breast-feeding history and intentions among Mexican-American mothers having their first births, and among those having subsequent births.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey in a hospital post-partum unit.
METHODS: 3,036 Hispanic women were interviewed post-partum in their hospital room. A survey was administered in English or Spanish, and included questions about prenatal care, diet, work exposures, contraceptive use, and breast-feeding history and intentions. For the purposes of this study, acculturation was measured using a series of indicators including language spoken at home, language ability, country of birth, and country in which last schooling was received.
RESULTS: Previous breast-feeding was significantly associated with educational attainment, speaking both English and Spanish at home, having had prenatal care during the previous pregnancy, and with both country variables (country of birth and country where finished school). Women with less education, women who were single, and women who did not receive any prenatal care were less likely to intend to breast-feed than were women with a college education, women with a partner, and women who received any prenatal care. Women born in Mexico (for multiparous women), or having finished school in Mexico (for primiparous women), were more likely to intend to breast-feed.
CONCLUSIONS: Acculturation is associated with breast-feeding history and intention to breast-feed. Acculturation is a complex construct and traditional measures of acculturation based on language preference may not be as useful on the US-Mexico border. It is recommended that further study be conducted to determine what factors prevent women from breast-feeding, even though they intend to do so, especially in multi-cultural communities like those around the US-Mexico border.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Ethnicity & Disease


Byrd, Theresa L.
Balcazar, Hector G.
Hummer, Robert A.