Aim: To evaluate the prevalence of full breastfeeding during the first 6 months of age and to discover if training programs for health caregivers and welfare initiatives at the community level could improve breastfeeding rates.
Methods: Newborn babies with gestational age ≥36 weeks and birth weight ≥2500 g, discharged from the hospital within the first week of life, without any underlying pathologies, were enrolled in 3-month long sample periods between 1997 and 2006. A questionnaire was distributed to the mothers, to be completed and submitted before hospital discharge. Data were collected from phone interviews at 1, 3 and 6 months.
Results: Full breastfeeding rates at hospital discharge showed an oscillation between 69.9% and 87%. The rate decreased in the following months and reached very low levels at 6 months of age (<24%), with the exception of the last sample period in 2006 (44.9%).
Conclusion: A simple questionnaire, combined with standardized phone interviews, can be easily reproduced and may be used as an indicator for quality of neonatal care at hospital nurseries. A social and cultural change of the whole community towards breastfeeding promotion will result in increasing breastfeeding rates.