Objective: To determine the association between maternal ethnicity and breastfeeding initiation (child ever fed breastmilk) and duration (child breastfed for at least 6 months) in Suriname.
Methods: Mothers of 6-11 months old infants who attended the Regional Health Service clinics in Paramaribo for routine well-baby care services were invited to participate during a period of eight weeks. Information about breastfeeding initiation and duration, maternal and child characteristics were obtained using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Logistic regression models were applied to examine independent associations with never breastfeeding and breastfeeding less than 6 months.
Results: Maroon mothers had the highest proportions of ever breastfeeding (99%) and breastfeeding for at least 6 months (77%), while Hindustani mothers had the lowest (90% and 27%, respectively). Javanese mothers had the second highest proportion of ever breastfeeding (98%), but the second lowest proportion of breastfeeding for at least 6 months (50%). Compared with Maroon mothers, Hindustani, Creole and mothers with mixed ethnicity had significantly higher odds of never breastfeeding, while Hindustani, Javanese and Creole mothers had significantly higher odds for breastfeeding less than 6 months.
Conclusion: Wide maternal ethnic variations in breastfeeding initiation and duration exist in Suriname. Other maternal or child factors do not account for the observed variations. These may reflect cultural norms and should be further explored.
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