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Factors influencing breastfeeding in children less than 2 years of age in Lao PDR


  • Declaration of conflict of interest: The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Associate Professor Chushi Kuroiwa, Department of Health Policy and Planning, School of International Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Fax: +81 3 5841 3637; email:


Aim:  This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of, and factors influencing, exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) at 6 months and continued breastfeeding (CBF) at 2 years.

Methods:  Between January and February 2007, a cross-sectional study was conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire in 40 villages in the Vientiane capital and the Vientiane province of Lao PDR. A total of 400 mothers with children less than 2 years old were recruited by multistage random sampling. Based on the 1991 World Health Organization Breastfeeding Indicators, children were classified into three groups, 6–23-month-old children for assessing EBF at 6 months, 12–15-month-old children for CBF at 1 year and 20–23-month-old children for CBF at 2 years.

Results:  The prevalence of EBF at 6 months and CBF at 2 years were 19.4% (n= 283) and 18.6% (n= 43), respectively. Some of the factors influencing EBF at 6 months in a univariate logistic regression model included: location of residence, (OR: 19.19, 95% CI 6.96–57.01), ethnicity (OR: 3.15, 95% CI 1.63–6.08), encouragement of the child's father (OR: 9.03, 95%CI 1.21–67.57) and inter-spousal communication (OR: 5.20, 95% CI 2.34–11.56). A majority of the mothers (75.0%) had watched television advertisements for infant formula from Thailand, and 48.4% reported that they wanted to buy formula milk after having watched them.

Conclusion:  This study showed a low prevalence of EBF at 6 months in the studied area in Lao PDR. Some of the factors that had a strong impact on EBF at 6 months included: location of residence, ethnicity, father's involvement, early breastfeeding plan, Mother's Card in antenatal care and television advertisement. There may be opportunities for government to review a range of policies relating to paternal involvement, antenatal care and formula advertising that could help to improve EBF rate.