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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

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


PEPINO, M. Yanina  and  MENNELLA, Julie A.. Advice given to women in Argentina about breast-feeding and the use of alcohol. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.6, pp.408-414. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the types of advice that women in Argentina received from health professionals, family members, and friends about drinking alcoholic beverages and about alcohol usage during pregnancy and lactation. METHODS: In December 2001 and December 2002, structured interviews were conducted with a total of 167 women who were then breast-feeding or who had recently breast-fed their infant. Mothers were asked about the type of advice, if any, that they had received about the use of alcohol from health professionals and from family members and friends. Also included were questions related to the usage of the traditional Argentine beverage "mate" (an infusion widely consumed in South America that is prepared from the leaves of the Ilex paraguayensis plant) and the types of advice the women had received about breast-feeding and neonatal care in general. RESULTS: Of the 167 women studied, 96.4% of them reported that their physician had advised them to breast-feed their infant. In addition, 93.4% of the women said they had treated their infant's umbilical cord stump with alcohol. Fewer than half of the women (46.7%) reported that their physician had advised them about drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, and even fewer (25.7%) received such advice during lactation. Family and friends were about equally likely to give advice about the consumption of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy (42.6%) and during lactation (47.9%). However, the type of advice changed, with the family and friends being significantly more likely to encourage drinking when the women were lactating than when they were pregnant (P < 0.001). Family members and friends also encouraged the drinking of mate to increase milk production. CONCLUSIONS: As in other cultures, in Argentina the belief exists that alcohol enhances lactation. However, the majority of women whom we interviewed had not been counseled by their health professional about the consumption of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy and lactation. There is a need for professional development strategies that will address women's awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption and alcohol usage.

Keywords : Alcohol drinking; ethanol; breast feeding; maternal behavior; health knowledge; attitudes; practice; Argentina.

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