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Determinants of exclusive breastfeeding among Chinese mothers in the first 6 months

02 May 2024
Volume 32 · Issue 5



Exclusive breastfeeding duration remains suboptimal among Chinese mothers. Understanding the factors that influence exclusive breastfeeding is essential for developing targeted interventions to promote breastfeeding practices. This study aimed to identify determinants of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months after birth in Xuzhou City, China.


This prospective study enrolled 178 mothers, using structured questionnaires for data collection. Subsequent analysis used multiple linear regression to explore factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding duration.


On average, participants exclusively breastfed for 67 days. Influencing factors included breastfeeding intention, perception of insufficient milk and maternity leave.


Targeted interventions have the potential to prolong exclusive breastfeeding duration, such as ensuring women develop accurate perceptions of their breast milk supply and extending maternity leave. Implementing these interventions is crucial to achieving the target of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, consequently contributing to optimal health benefits for mother–infant dyads in China.

Breastfeeding provides unparalleled health benefits for mothers and their infants (Prentice, 2022), and there is a dose-response relationship (Buyken et al, 2008; Su et al, 2021). Health outcomes can be enhanced by breastfeeding more often and for longer. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2019) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months postpartum, without introducing other liquids except for medically prescribed supplements.

Exclusive breastfeeding provides all the necessary nutrients for infants in the first 6 months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months can reduce infant mortality by reducing the prevalence of conditions such as diarrhea and respiratory and gastrointestinal infections (Dina and Djuwita, 2021; North et al, 2022). It has also been estimated to save the lives of at least 800 000 babies every year (Ogunba, 2019), and maternal risk of breast cancer when exclusively breastfeeding is only 2% (Scoccianti et al, 2015), ovarian cancer by 27–35% (Jordan et al, 2012) and type 2 diabetes by at least 50% (Schwarz et al, 2010).

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