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Keywords:

  • exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months;
  • focus group discussion;
  • formula milk;
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic;
  • media

Aim

This study aims to examine the influence of formula milk promotion via the media from Thailand to Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), where a cultural and linguistic proximity are shared.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted through a structured questionnaire survey and focus group discussion (FGD) with mothers who had children under 2 years of age and lived in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR. Multivariate logistic regression models were constructed for quantitative data analysis. Content analysis was used for qualitative data analysis.

Results

Among infants aged 6–23 months, exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rate for 6 months was 16.1% (n = 106/658). Among infants aged 0–5 months, 17.6% (n = 61/346) was exclusively breastfed at the time of survey (24 h recall). Of 1022 mothers, 89.9% reported frequent exposure to the Thai media's promotion of formula milk through TV commercials and 79.1% identified TV commercial as influential for them to develop a positive attitude towards the use of formula milk. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, mothers who reported a positive attitude towards Thai TV commercial on the formula use (n = 449) were approximately 75% less likely to practice EBF for 6 months than those who reported a negative attitude (n = 64). FGD further revealed that the participants tend to believe in the information in TV commercial for formula milk.

Conclusion

The promotion of formula milk via media from Thailand negatively affects breastfeeding mothers in Lao PDR. Cross-border impacts of promoting formula milk should be addressed globally.