Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 183–199

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

  • Rachel Tolbert Kimbro
  • Scott M. Lynch
  • Sara McLanahan
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11113-007-9059-0

Cite this article as:
Kimbro, R.T., Lynch, S.M. & McLanahan, S. Popul Res Policy Rev (2008) 27: 183. doi:10.1007/s11113-007-9059-0

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Acculturation Breastfeeding Mexican-Americans 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Tolbert Kimbro
    • 1
  • Scott M. Lynch
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sara McLanahan
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of SociologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  4. 4.Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International AffairsPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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