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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


IRENE PICADO, Janet; OLSON, Christine M.  and  RASMUSSEN, Kathleen M.. A mixed-method approach to understanding breast-feeding duration in urban low-income neighborhoods in Managua, Nicaragua. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1997, vol.2, n.6, pp.398-407. ISSN 1680-5348.

This study examined the relationship of several maternal variables to the duration of exclusive breast-feeding and the total duration of breast-feeding, along with attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs about breast-feeding among women living in poor neighborhoods of Managua, Nicaragua. The field work was carried out in December 1992 and January 1993 using qualitative and quantitative methods. A structured questionnaire was administered in interviews with 556 mothers of children under 12 months of age, and meetings of four directed discussion groups were held, in which a total of 20 women participated. At one week of age, almost all the children of the mothers who were surveyed had been breast-fed, but only 45% had been exclusively breast-fed. At 12 weeks old, 30% were already completely weaned. The discussion groups revealed the coexistence of positive opinions about both breast-feeding and bottle-feeding. However, exclusive breast-feeding was considered harmful for the mother, and breast milk was not thought to be sufficient nourishment for the child. Previous experience was strongly related to the duration of exclusive breast-feeding and to total breast-feeding duration. Attitudes, social support, and work situation were important factors influencing the total length of time women breast-fed a child. In general, the results obtained through the interviews and in the discussion groups were in agreement and showed that the elements needed to promote exclusive breast-feeding were social support, a favorable community environment, and policies that dealt with problems faced by working mothers. The complementary research methods were useful for obtaining information about the relative importance of different factors that determine the duration of breast-feeding and for understanding that practice in greater depth from the mother's point of view.

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