Relationship between the Infant Feeding Preferences of Chinese Mothers' Immediate Social Network and Early Breastfeeding Cessation

Dorothy Li Bai, Daniel Yee Tak Fong, Kris Yuet Wan Lok, Marie Tarrant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The relationship between support from members of a mother's social network and breastfeeding continuation is receiving increased attention. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to describe the infant feeding preferences of Chinese mothers' immediate social network and to examine the association between these preferences and early breastfeeding cessation. Methods: In total, 1172 mother-infant pairs were recruited from 4 public hospitals in Hong Kong and followed prospectively for 12 months or until breastfeeding stopped. Results: Over 40% of participants' partners preferred breastfeeding and half had no infant feeding preference. Only about 20% of participants' mothers or mothers-in-law preferred breastfeeding, and less than 10% reported that all of the 3 significant family members (partner, mother, and mother-in-law) preferred breastfeeding. The partner's preference for infant formula or mixed feeding (odds ratio [OR], 2.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.43-4.71) or having no preference (OR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.16-2.30) was strongly associated with higher odds of stopping breastfeeding before 1 month. For every additional family member who preferred breastfeeding, the odds of stopping breastfeeding was reduced by almost 20% (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68-0.97). However, living with a parent-in-law (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.02-2.07) was also a predictor of early breastfeeding cessation. Knowing someone who had breastfed for ≥ 1 month (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.42-0.97) or having been breastfed as a child (OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.45-0.98) significantly lowered the odds of early breastfeeding cessation. Conclusions: The infant feeding preferences of mothers' immediate social network are significantly associated with breastfeeding continuation. Prenatal breastfeeding education programs should involve significant family members to promote breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • breastfeeding
  • Chinese
  • Hong Kong
  • infant feeding preference
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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