Infant feeding: three questions and a caveat
Three questions are addressed: (1) Why don't women who breastfeed little breastfeed more, and why don't some women breastfeed at all? (2) What do mothers feed their infants when infant formula is unavailable or they are unaware of its availability? (3) Has changing biomedical knowledge about breastfeeding's results affected trends in breastfeeding? The author finds that precise answers to the first question are unlikely to be obtained through interview methods and that less direct, multivariate statistical methods might better identify personal and environmental characteristics associated with very early weaning. To answer the second question, anthropological study is needed of infant feeding behavior in populations experiencing breastfeeding declines. The answer to the third question appears to be that breastfeeding has increased as documentation of the immunologic, anti-allergic, psychological, and nutritional advantages of breastfeeding has diffused to mothers in developed countries. All three questions have important implications for infant feeding in the Third World.