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French women breastfeed for 4 months on average

22 Sep 2015 | By Inserm (Newsroom) | Uncategorized

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exclusive breastfeeding (children only receiving breast milk and no other food or drink) should last until the infant is 6 months old and partial breastfeeding should continue up to 2 years of age. A study conducted by Inserm Unit 1018 “Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health”, and published by the InVs (French Institute for Public Health Surveillance) Bulletin Épidémiologique Hebdomadaire, shows that French women breastfeed for an average of 17 weeks, or just over 4 and a half months in total, and only exclusively for two months.

These data come from the ELFE study organised by Inserm, Ined and the French National Blood Service, which monitored over 18,000 children since 2011. One of the aims was to analyse the duration for full and partial breastfeeding and then determine the sociocultural, demographical and economical factors associated with breastfeeding duration.

Researchers have demonstrated that if breastfeeding duration among women is shorter than the time recommended by WHO, then this observation is particularly true for women under 30 who live alone and have a low level of education.

For the authors of the study “These findings support the need to change the image of breastfeeding and to devise a promotional strategy that targets young mothers with low income and education that are more likely stop breastfeeding early”.

Researcher Contact

Sandra Wagner
Unité Inserm 1018 « Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et en Santé des Population »

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