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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

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


MCLENNAN, John D.. Early termination of breast-feeding in periurban Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: mothers' community perceptions and personal practices. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2001, vol.9, n.6, pp.362-367. ISSN 1680-5348.

Objectives. The objectives of this study were to determine: 1) whether mothers' perceptions of typical community practice for breast-feeding duration influence their personal practices and 2) whether the mothers' reports of community reasons for terminating breast-feeding identify barriers not elicited through self-report. Methods. The study was conducted in 1997 in a sample of poor neighborhoods in a periurban district of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. A representative sample of 220 mothers from these neighborhoods was interviewed with a structured questionnaire. Results. While the duration of breast-feeding was similar for self-report and for mothers' perceptions of typical community practice, there was no statistically significant correlation between these two variables. "Mother-driven" reasons for early termination of breast-feeding, such as "fear of loss of figure or of breast shape" and "not wanting to breast-feed," were frequently perceived as community reasons but rarely given as personal reasons. Personal reasons were predominately "child-driven," including "the child not wanting the breast," or reasons beyond the mother's control such as having "insufficient" milk. Conclusions. Maternal report of community reasons for early termination may be a useful way to identify factors that would not otherwise be revealed on self-report. These additional reasons may guide health promotion efforts aimed at increasing breast-feeding duration.

Keywords : Breast-feeding; surveys; research methodology; maternal and child health; Dominican Republic.

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