Infant care practices in a metropolitan Aboriginal population


Dr SJ Eades Epidemiology Division, TVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, PO Box 855, West Perth, Western Australia 6872, Australia. Fax: (08) 9388 3414; email:


Objective: To describe sleeping position, room and bed-sharing, tobacco smoke exposure and infant feeding for a sample of Australian Aboriginal infants from a metropolitan area.

Methods: Interviews with Aboriginal mothers who resided in the Perth metropolitan area and had given birth during a continuous15-month study period. The interviews took place when the infants were approximately 6–12 weeks old and efforts were made to contact all eligible mothers. Results are presented as proportions with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Of all the eligible mothers (n = 515), 87% were contacted and 53% (n = 273) completed the interview. Of all the infants, 11% slept prone, 96% shared a room and 68% shared a bed; 65% of mothers smoked during pregnancy and 65% were smokers at the time of interview; 66% of the partners were smokers and 80% of the infants were regularly exposed to tobacco smoke; 89% of mothers initiated breast-feeding and 70% were breast-feeding at time of interview.

Conclusion: Prevalences of non-prone sleeping and breast-feeding are similar to the overall Western Australian population, whilst tobacco smoke exposure of the infants is markedly higher. Programs of community and family education and support are required urgently to decrease this exposure.