Epidemiology of breast-feeding in Italy

M. Giovannini, G. Banderali, C. Agostoni, E. Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To evaluate the prevalence of breast-feeding in Italy and to describe the social and environmental factors associated with its practice, 1601 mothers were systematically recruited as representative of deliveries across all regions of Italy during November 1995. They were interviewed in March, June, and September of 1996. Interviews were conducted by telephone using a standardized questionnaire designed for computer scanning. The results indicated that 85% of mothers breast-fed their infants. The rates of breast-feeding at 3, 6, and 9 months were, respectively, 51%, 32%, and 19%. Among the 830 lactating mothers at 3 months, 72% practiced breast-feeding "on demand." Pediatricians, midwives, and gynecologists were the main sources of information about breast-feeding, but 43% of the mothers did not receive any information. Media (radio, TV) were mentioned as sources of information by only 2% of the mothers. Maternal factors significantly associated with breast-feeding and its duration were: a) having been breast-fed as infants, b) being nonsmokers, and c) being given information about lactation at the time of discharge from their hospital ward. Maternal characteristics (age, weight, and height), parental socioeconomic indicators (profession and education), and neonatal care (rooming-in practice) were not significantly associated with breast-feeding. Our results show that in Italy a fairly high percentage of mothers start breast-feeding and that both maternal factors (history and habits) and good information may support its duration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-533
Number of pages5
JournalAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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