The impact of immigration on the breastfeeding practices of Mainland Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong

Kris Yuet Wan Lok, Dorothy Li Bai, Noel P.T. Chan, Janet Y.H. Wong, Marie Tarrant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Researchers have found breastfeeding disparities between immigrant and native-born women in many countries. However, most studies on immigration and breastfeeding practices have been in Western countries. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of length of time since immigration on the breastfeeding practices of Mainland Chinese immigrants living in Hong Kong. Methods: We recruited 2704 mother-infant pairs from the postnatal wards of four public hospitals in Hong Kong. We examined the effect of migration status on the duration of any and exclusive breastfeeding. Results: Breastfeeding duration was progressively shorter as the time since immigration increased. When compared with mothers who had lived in Hong Kong for <5 years, Hong Kong-born participants had a 30% higher risk of stopping any breastfeeding (hazard ratio [HR] 1.34 [95% confidence interval {CI} 1.10-1.63]) and exclusive breastfeeding (HR 1.33 [95% CI 1.11-1.58]). In both Hong Kong-born and immigrant participants, breastfeeding cessation was associated with return to work postpartum and the husband's preference for infant formula or mixed feeding. Intention to exclusively breastfeed and to breastfeed for >6 months, and previous breastfeeding experience substantially reduced the risk of breastfeeding cessation for both Hong Kong-born and immigrant participants. Conclusions: Health care professionals should consider immigration history in their assessment of pregnant women and provide culturally adapted breastfeeding support and encouragement to this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-102
Number of pages9
JournalBirth
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • acculturation
  • breastfeeding
  • Chinese
  • Hong Kong
  • immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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