The Influence of Acculturation on Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration for Mexican-Americans

Journal Article

This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to test the hypotheses that (1) similar to other positive pre- and post-natal outcomes, Mexican immigrant mothers are more likely to breastfeed, and to breastfeed longer, than white or Mexican-American mothers; and (2) acculturation accounts for the ethnic/nativity differential in breastfeeding initiation and duration. The results support both hypotheses. Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are much more likely than whites to breastfeed, and to breastfeed longer. Mexican-American mothers, after controlling for background characteristics, have similar initiation and duration to whites. Using expanded acculturation measures developed for this paper, acculturation accounts for some of the difference between whites and Mexican immigrants in breastfeeding initiation, and much of the difference for breastfeeding duration. The results suggest that low levels of acculturation operate to protect Mexican immigrants from choosing to formula-feed, which gives their babies many health advantages, and may be associated with better health outcomes across the life course. The results also suggest that successive generations of Mexican immigrants may abandon breastfeeding, which is deleterious for their infants.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kimbro, RT; Lynch, SM; McLanahan, S

Published Date

  • 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 183 - 199

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0167-5923

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/41217944