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Birth. 2008 Dec;35(4):303-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00257.x.

Attributions of breastfeeding determinants in a French population.

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Department of Psychology, University of Tolouse II-Le Mirail, Tolouse, France.



The rates of initiation and duration of breastfeeding in France are low when compared with those in other European countries. The objective of this study was to determine attributions of breastfeeding determinants in a French population.


A self-report survey listing 68 reasons for or against breastfeeding was developed. Nine hundred nine participants from the general population rated their level of agreement with each reason by means of a Likert-type scale. The survey explored gender, age, parenthood, decision to breastfeed, having friends who had breastfed, having family members who had breastfed, and having been breastfed themselves when younger. Exploratory factorial analyses extracted six factors for breastfeeding and five factors against breastfeeding. All the factors were entered in regression analyses to predict demographic variables that determined attributions for and against breastfeeding. Individuals were measured at two points in time to account for test-retest reliability (28.1 days +/- 6.95 day lapse).


Determinants varied significantly with respect to gender, age, parenthood, and breastfeeding history. High endorsement for breastfeeding involved breastfeeding to fulfill gender roles, to prevent health risks, and because of external encouragement; little endorsement was given for the physiological advantages for babies, pleasant sensations, and preference factors. In terms of not breastfeeding, high endorsement was observed in lack of support, negative attitudes, and infant formula reasoning factors; medical and physiological reasons for not breastfeeding showed low endorsement.


The results of this study showed a strong impact of society and cultural norms on feeding choice. If breastfeeding initiation and duration rates are to be increased, we suggest approaching the rest of the population in addition to pregnant women and mothers since society as a whole influences the decision to breastfeed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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