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Rates of breastfeeding in Australia by State and socio-economic status: Evidence from the 1995 National Health Survey

Authors


  • S Donath, BSc, MA, Lecturer. LH Amir, MB BS, MMed (Wom Hlth), IBCLC, Lecturer.

Correspondence: SDonath The Key Centre for Women’s Health, University of Melbourne, 720 Swanston Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia. Fax: (03) 9347 9824; email: s.donath@kcwh.unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: To estimate rates of breastfeeding in the first year of life in Australia, according to state and socio-economic status.

Methodology: Analysis of data from the 1995 Australian National Health Survey.

Results: Estimated breastfeeding rates are 81.8% on discharge from hospital, 57.1% fully breastfed at 3 months and 62.6% fully or partially breastfed at 3 months. At 6 months, it is estimated that 18.6% of babies are fully breastfed and 46.2% fully or partially breastfed. At 1 year, 21.2% of infants are receiving some breast milk. Comparison between states demonstrates that there is considerable variation in breastfeeding practice within Australia. Rates of breastfeeding also vary according to the socio-economic status of the geographic area in which the child is living, with a strong inverse relationship between rates of breastfeeding and socio-economic status.

Conclusion: Australia’s target for breastfeeding in the year 2000 is to have 80% of babies at least partially breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Although Australia has good rates of initiation of breastfeeding, these levels are not maintained over time, and it seems unlikely that we will reach the year 2000 targets.

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