Mexican-origin women breastfeed at similar rates as white women in the United States, yet they usually breastfeed for less time. In our study, we seek to identify differences in Mexican-origin women’s breastfeeding intentions, initiation, continuation, and supplementation across nativity and country-of-education groups.
The data are from a prospective cohort study of postpartum women ages 18 to 44 recruited from 8 Texas hospitals. We included 1235 Mexican-origin women who were born and educated in either Texas or Mexico. Women were interviewed at delivery and at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months post partum. Breastfeeding intentions and initiation were reported at baseline, continuation was collected at each interview, and weeks until supplementation was assessed for both solids and formula. Women were classified into 3 categories: born and educated in Mexico, born and educated in the United States, and born in Mexico and educated in the United States.
Breastfeeding initiation and continuation varied by nativity and country of birth, although all women reported similar breastfeeding intentions. Women born and educated in Mexico initiated and continued breastfeeding in higher proportions than women born and educated in the United States. Mexican-born and US-educated women formed an intermediate group. Early supplementation with formula and solid foods was similar across groups, and early supplementation with formula negatively impacted duration across all groups.
Nativity and country of education are important predictors of breastfeeding and should be assessed in pediatric and postpartum settings to tailor breastfeeding support. Support is especially warranted among US-born women, and additional educational interventions should be developed to forestall early supplementation with formula across all acculturation groups.