Background: The rate of breast-feeding in Israel has increased over the last two decades but is still lower than rates in other developed countries that have taken an active role in promoting breast-feeding.
Objective: To determine breast-feeding patterns and the association between sociodemographic characteristics and breast-feeding in the Tel Aviv district.
Methods: The mothers of infants aged 2, 4, 6 and 12 months, attending 59 well-baby clinics in the Tel Aviv district, were interviewed by telephone. Singleton infants who weighed less than 2,000 g and multiple-gestation infants were excluded from the study. The questions covered background data, sociodemographic characteristics of the family, and breast-feeding practices. Stepwise logistic regression was used to analyze the association between breast-feeding and various sociodemographic characteristics.
Results: Altogether, 78.5% of the mothers (1,307/1,665) initiated breast-feeding. The rate of breast-feeding at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months was 55.8, 36.8, 29.9 and 11.8%, respectively. Only 35.8% of the infants at 2 months and 11.2% at 6 months were exclusively breast-fed. The mean duration of breast-feeding was 5.2 ± 0.2 months. Grand multiparas (≥5 children) had a significantly higher rate of breast-feeding than women with one to four children (P < 0.001). More likely to breast-feed for 2 weeks or longer were women married to Yeshiva students (odds ratio = 5.3), women with ≥13 years education (OR = 2.1), and women on maternity leave (OR = 1.6). The predictors for breast-feeding for 6 months or longer were similar.
Conclusions: Although the rate of breast-feeding initiation in central Israel was 78.5%, only 29.9% of the mothers continue to breast-feed for 6 months. Already at a young age, an appreciable number of breast-fed infants receive infant formula. Breast-feeding promotion should focus on less educated women, homemakers, and families with one to four children.