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Pac Health Dialog. 2002 Mar;9(1):34-9.

Infant feeding and feeding problems experienced by mothers of a birth cohort of Pacific infants in New Zealand.

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  • 1Auckland University of Technology.



To describe the rates of exclusive breastfeeding, combination feeding, formula only feeding and infant feeding problems experienced by mothers of a birth cohort of Pacific infants in New Zealand.


The data were gathered as part of the Pacific Islands Families Study, a prospective cohort study in which 1376 mothers of a cohort of 1398 Pacific infants born in Middlemore Hospital, South Auckland, New Zealand during 2000 were interviewed at home when their infants were six weeks old. Included in the interview were questions regarding method of infant feeding and any feeding problems experienced.


At the time of discharge from hospital, 85.5% of mothers were exclusively breastfeeding. However, six weeks later this dropped to 50%. The rates of exclusive breastfeeding (p = 0.003) and combination breast and formula feeding (p < 0.001) differed amongst the main ethnic groups. Samoan mothers had the highest exclusive rate (55.7%), and Tongan mothers had the lowest rate (42.2%). Several mothers reported experiencing common feeding problems. Reasons for combination breast and formula and formula-only feeding are discussed.


Exclusive breastfeeding rates fell below national targets and those found in recent New Zealand studies. Most of the feeding problems reported are modifiable with education and support.


It is suggested that the benefits of breastfeeding need promoting and increased postnatal support should be provided to increase the rates of exclusive breastfeeding amongst Pacific women. Supporting Tongan women should be a priority, given the lower exclusive breastfeeding rates observed among Tongan mothers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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