Jan 1, 1985
Data from the Malaysian Family Life Survey show an increase in the percentage of infants breastfed, at least initially, from 75 percent in the period from 1970 to 1974, to 79 percent in the period from 1975 to 1977. Contrary to what would be expected if Malaysia were following the trends observed in the United States and Western Europe, the increase has occurred among poor and uneducated women as well as among the more fortunate. The increase was especially marked for infants born in hospitals and private clinics, which had very low rates of breastfeeding in the early 1970s. The change may be due partly to a shift in the practices and recommendations of health professionals. Trends in infant feeding practices in Malaysia during the period from 1950 to 1977 are reviewed. Reasons for thinking the increase in the mid-1970s is an artifact of the survey are presented and provisionally rejected. The implications of these findings for child health policy in Malaysia and for theories of infant feeding trends in developing countries are discussed.