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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(3):377-87.

A population-based survey on infant feeding practice (0-2 years) in Hong Kong: breastfeeding rate and patterns among 3,161 infants below 6 months old.

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Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 5/F School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong.


The prevalence of breastfeeding for the first 6 months in infants has been low in Hong Kong since the 1970s. In order to develop effective breastfeeding policies and promotion programs, an appraisal of feeding practices and factors related to initiation and early cessation of breastfeeding is necessary. A survey with a population-based representative sample was conducted to determine social-demographic, personal and cultural factors that influenced decision, duration and practice of infant feeding among infants 0-24 months old. This paper focuses on infants below 6 months old to study factors related to decision, duration and practice of breastfeeding. In 1993, 7,298 healthy infants were recruited from 46 Maternal-and-Child-Health-Clinics (MCHC) throughout Hong Kong, of whom 3161 were below 6 months old. The mother reported her feeding decision, duration and practice in a questionnaire. Breastfeeding rate was found to be very low (8.4%) for infants below 6 months old. Only 50.9% infants were breastfed. Infant formulae were widely given among partially breastfed infants. 45% mothers were full-time employed. Most mothers were aware of the benefits of breastfeeding to the infants and themselves. Husbands (43.3%) were regarded the most influential on initiation and duration on breastfeeding. Restricted food varieties (54%), sore nipple and breast engorgement (67%), perceived home confinement (41.5%) and perceived inadequate milk supply (31.7%) were major concerns upon breastfeeding. Furthermore, 76.9% mothers turned to MCHC staff for advice when they encountered difficulties during breastfeeding. In conclusion, the survey collected population-based representative data on factors determining initiation and early cessation of breastfeeding in Hong Kong in 1993. The findings will serve as a cornerstone in understanding the evolution of breastfeeding practice in Hong Kong. It merits further study to investigate how the confounders interplay to modulate initiation, duration and patterns of breastfeeding.

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