Sociodemographic and atopic factors affecting breastfeeding intention in Chinese mothers


Dr TF Leung, Department of Paediatrics, 6/F, Clinical Sciences Building, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China. Fax: +852 2636 0020; email:


Objective:  The factors accounting for the low ‘ever breastfeeding’ rate in Hong Kong remain unclear. The objective of this survey was to study the intention and planned duration of breastfeeding in Chinese women in Hong Kong, and to investigate the sociodemographic and atopic factors affecting the intention to breastfeed.

Methods:  All Chinese mothers who were Hong Kong residents and who delivered their babies in a University teaching hospital were given a self administered and anonymous Chinese questionnaire within 1 day postpartum. The questionnaire included items on sociodemographic data, the presence of allergic diseases in the families, and the intention and planned duration of breastfeeding for their newborn babies.

Results:  A total of 1374 eligible questionnaires were collected. About one-third of mothers were born outside Hong Kong and the majority (78%) of them were aged between 25 and 40 years. Logistic regression revealed that only socioeconomic factors, namely older maternal age (odds ratio (OR) 2.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14−3.89), parity (OR 3.08, 95% CI 1.02−9.27) and higher educational background (OR 2.87, 95% CI 1.92−4.27), significantly affected the intention to breastfeed. In addition, mothers born outside Hong Kong and those with first babies, had a longer intended duration of breastfeeding (P-values < 0.001 and 0.033, respectively). A family history of atopic disorders in parents or siblings did not influence the breastfeeding intention of these Chinese mothers.

Conclusion:  Several sociodemographic factors, rather than a history of atopic disorders, of Chinese mothers in Hong Kong affected their intention to breastfeed and the planned duration of breastfeeding.