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J Hum Lact. 2012 Nov;28(4):556-64. doi: 10.1177/0890334412446798. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, prior exposure, and intent among undergraduate students.

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University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.

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Understanding breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, and exposures among nonpregnant youth who are likely to be future parents may provide significant pathways to successfully increasing breastfeeding as the normal, accepted way of feeding infants. However, based on a recent review of the literature, only 3 studies have assessed these factors in nonpregnant, young adults in the United States in the past 10 years.


The objective of this study was to gather more recent data regarding breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, and prior exposure among undergraduate university students.


This was a cross-sectional survey, conducted in November 2010. A convenience sample, consisting of undergraduates in attendance in 2 sections of an introductory nutrition class at a large research university, was used for this project (N = 248).


Breastfeeding knowledge was relatively good. However, overall breastfeeding attitudes were more neutral, which appeared to be explained by the belief that breastfeeding is painful, restrictive, and inconvenient, both in general and specifically for the working mother. Though support for breastfeeding in public was low, men were significantly less likely than women to believe it to be embarrassing or unacceptable. In addition, breastfeeding attitudes were more positive among older students and those who were breastfed as infants. Those who were breastfed as infants were also significantly more likely to intend to breastfeed future children.


Though this sample indicates good breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes were more neutral, and support for breastfeeding in public appears low. This finding is contradictory and warrants further exploration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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