Data from the First and Second Malaysian Family Life Surveys, fielded in 1976 and 1988 respectively, are analyzed to examine long-term trends in breastfeeding in Peninsular Malaysia, educational and ethnic differences therein, and the quality of retrospective data on infant feeding. There was a steady decrease between the mid-1950s and mid-1970s in the percentage of babies who were ever breastfed, but there has been a nearly monotonic increase since 1975. Part of the observed change in overall breastfeeding rates is attributable to the changing composition of the Malaysian population. Over time, the percentages of births to population subgroups with higher rates of breastfeeding--particularly Malays and more highly educated women--have increased. However, there is also evidence of changes in women's rates of breastfeeding within these subgroups. Many Malaysian infants have a duration of total breastfeeding (including with supplementation) that is considerably shorter than WHO's recommended duration of exclusive (unsupplemented) breastfeeding (4 months). Moreover, nearly all Malaysian infants who are breastfed are first given supplementary food or beverage shortly after birth. Breastfeeding promotion efforts in Malaysia need to give more emphasis to the appropriate timing and types of supplementary feeding.
Originally published in: Social Biology, v. 41, no. 1-2, Spring-Summer 1994, pp. 61-77.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.