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J Hum Lact. 1995 Mar;11(1):11-5.

Breastfeeding practices in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.


Barriers to increased breastfeeding rates in Chengdu, Sichuan were investigated in 1992 and 1993. Responses of focus groups showed that ignorance about breastfeeding and belief that the mother's milk was inadequate, and lack of support from their families, places of employment, and the health system acted as barriers to the women's breastfeeding their infants up to the age of four to six months. Subsequently, 363 mothers of 4- to 12-month-old Chengdu infants were surveyed. Although most mothers in both studies said breastmilk was the best food for their infant up to age of four to six months, only about half of the mothers breastfed for longer than one month. Both studies showed that infants who roomed with their mothers after birth were more likely to have been put to their mother's breast earlier, fed colostrum, breastfed somewhat longer, and exclusively breastfed for a somewhat longer period, although their mothers' infant feeding knowledge did not differ. The researchers conclude that Chengdu health workers should teach parents and parents-to-be more about breastfeeding, and that rooming-in be expanded in Chengdu hospitals.


In China in 1992, a focus group was conducted of 4-9 mothers at eight different places of employment in Chengdu, Sichuan (total mothers, 55), to learn their attitudes, beliefs, concerns, knowledge, and preferred channels of receiving infant feeding information. During April 1993, interviews were conducted with 363 infant-caretaker pairs from each of Chengdu's five districts to examine infant feeding practices. 88% of infants were ever breast fed. Even though almost 73% of the caregivers thought that breast milk was the best food for the first six months, only 32% of infants 4-6 months old were currently being breast fed. The targeted breast feeding rate of the National Action Programme for Child Development in China is 80%. Only one 7-month-old infant was currently exclusively breast fed. The findings of the survey corroborated those of the focus groups. Mothers tended to have little knowledge about breast feeding, to believe their breast milk was inadequate, and to have no support from their families, employers, and the health system. Knowledge on infant feeding of mothers whose infants roomed with them after delivery and that of mothers whose infants did not room with them after delivery was similar. Infants who roomed with their mothers after delivery tended to have first been breast fed earlier (p 0.0001), to have been given breast milk as their first food (; 0.0001), to continue to have been breast fed when the mothers thought that their breast milk was inadequate (p = 0.0003), to have received colostrum (p = 0.003), to have been breast fed longer (p = 0..0002), and to have been exclusively breast fed longer (p 0.0001). These findings led to three recommendations to encourage breast feeding in Chengdu: health workers should consider breast feeding important and should educate parents about infant feeding and nutrition; more hospitals in Chengdu need to practice rooming-in; and a study should be conducted to determine whether health workers have adequate knowledge about breast feeding.

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