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Food and Nutrition

Duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding in Canada: Key Statistics and Graphics (2009-2010)

The Next link will take you to another Web site 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) looked at how long women who had given birth in the last 5 years breastfed their last child and when they first introduced liquids or solids.

Key statistics and graphics on the duration of exclusive breastfeeding in Canada from the CCHS 2009-2010 are presented below.Footnote1 In the descriptions below, a difference between two estimates is considered statistically significant when the 95% confidence intervals do not overlap.

Duration of exclusive breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) and allows the baby to receive vitamins, minerals or medicine. Water, breast milk substitutes, other liquids and solid foods are excluded.

The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on the Maternal Experiences - Breastfeeding (MEX) Module questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids. The questions were asked of mothers between the ages of 15 and 55 who had given birth in the last 5 years. While the derived variable specification changed in CCHS 2009-2010, the new specification was used when looking at trends in breastfeeding duration across all cycles of CCHS.Footnote2

Exclusive breastfeeding duration in 2009-2010

  • 25.9% of mothers exclusively breastfed their last child for the recommended 6 months (17.6%) or more (8.3%).

Duration of exclusive breastfeeding, Canada, 2009-2010

Duration of exclusive breastfeeding, Canada, 2009-2010

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years. Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) to babies. The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

Trend in exclusive breastfeeding duration

  • The percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their child for six months (or more) increased between the reporting periods 2003 (17.3%) and 2005 (20.3%), but remained stable between the reporting periods 2005 (20.3%) and 2007-2008 (23.1%) and 2007-2008 (23.1%) and 2009-2010 (25.9%).

Duration of exclusive breastfeeding by selected socio-demographic characteristics

The percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their last child for the recommended six months (or more) varied by selected socio-demographic characteristics.Footnote3

Household income

  • At the national level, significantly fewer mothers in the lowest (23.1%) and third income quintile (23.7%) breastfed their child exclusively for six months (or more) than did mothers in the highest income quintile (33.0%).Footnote4

Highest level of education attained

  • Significantly fewer mothers with less than secondary education (17.3FootnoteE%), secondary graduation (20.4%) and some post-secondary education (19.9%) breastfed their last child exclusively for six months (or more) than did mothers who were post-secondary graduates (29.1%).

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by income and education, Canada, 2009-2010

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by income and education, Canada, 2009-2010

E – Data with a coefficient of variation from 16.6% to 33.3%; interpret with caution.

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.

Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) to babies. The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

Cultural/racial background

  • There were no significant differences in the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their last child for six months (or more) by cultural/racial background.Footnote5, Footnote6

Aboriginal status

  • Significantly fewer off-reserve Aboriginal mothersFootnote7 breastfed their last child exclusively for six months (or more) (16.6%) than did non-Aboriginal mothers (26.7%).

Immigrant status

  • There were no significant differences in the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their last child for six months (or more) by immigrant status.Footnote8

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by cultural/racial background, Aboriginal status and immigrant status, Canada, 2009-2010

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by cultural/racial background, Aboriginal status and immigrant status, Canada, 2009-2010

E – Data with a coefficient of variation from 16.6% to 33.3%; interpret with caution.

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.
Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) to babies. The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

Mother's Age

  • The percentage of mothers who breastfed exclusively for six months (or more) increased with increasing maternal age.  Significantly fewer mothers aged 15-24 (14.3%) and 25-34 (24.6%) breastfed their last child exclusively for six months (or more) than did mothers aged 35-55 (31.2%).

Marital status

  • Significantly more married/common-law mothers (27.6%) exclusively breastfed their last child six months (or more) than did mothers who were widowed/separated/divorced/single mothers (17.4%).

Area of residence

  • The percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their last child for six months (or more) was similar between urban and rural areas of residence.Footnote9

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by age, marital status and area of residence, Canada, 2009-2010

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (or more) by age, marital status and area of residence, Canada, 2009-2010

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.
Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) to babies. The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

Percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed for six months (or more) by region

In 2009-2010, the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfed their last child for six months (or more) in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec was significantly lower than the national average. The percentage of mothers exclusively breastfeeding for six months (or more) was significantly higher than the national average in the Prairies, British Columbia and the Territories.

Percentage of mothers who exclusive breastfed for six months (or more) by region, Canada, 2009-2010

Percentage of mothers who exclusive breastfed for six months (or more) by region, Canada, 2009-2010

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.
Exclusive breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) to babies. The duration of exclusive breastfeeding is a derived variable based on questions about length of breastfeeding and the introduction of liquids or solids.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

Reasons for stopping breastfeeding

The top three reasons cited by mothers for stopping breastfeeding their last child wereFootnote10:

  1. not enough breast milk (26.1%);
  2. baby was ready for solid food (18.9%); and,
  3. baby self-weaned (13.1%).

Reasons provided by mothers for stopping breastfeeding their last child, Canada, 2009-2010

Reasons provided by mothers for stopping exclusive breastfeeding of their last child, Canada, 2009-2010

E – Data with a coefficient of variation from 16.6% to 33.3%; interpret with caution.

All other reasons – Includes advice of partner/family/friends, mother wanted to drink alcohol, mother wanted to smoke and other.
Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.

Source: Health Canada
Data Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009-2010

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Footnotes

Footnote E

Data with a coefficient of variation from 16.6% to 33.3%; interpret with caution.

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Footnote 1

The Share Files from Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2009-2010 were used in deriving the estimates.

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Footnote 2

The duration of exclusive breastfeeding was determined using the Next link will take you to another Web site derived variable ‘Length of exclusive breastfeeding'. The specification of the derived variable changed in 2009-2010.

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Footnote 3

The proportion of exclusively mothers who breastfed their babies for six months (or more) was determined using the Next link will take you to another Web site derived variable ‘Exclusively breastfed for 6 months (or more)'. The specification of the derived variable changed in 2009-2010.

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Footnote 4

The income distribution reflects a distribution of respondents in deciles based on the adjusted ratio of their total household income to the low income cut-off corresponding to their household and community size. It provides, for each respondent, a relative measure of their household income to the household incomes of all other respondents. This income distribution is divided into ten equal parts so that each part represents 1/10th of the sample or population. These equal parts are referred to as Decile 1, Decile 2, etc. Decile 1 and 2 were combined to become Quintile 1, Decile 3 and 4 were combined to become Quintile 2, etc.

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Footnote 5

An Asian cultural or racial background includes Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, South Asian or South East Asian.

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Footnote 6

An ‘Other' cultural or racial background includes Arab, West Asian, Latin American, other racial/cultural origin or multiple racial/cultural origin.

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Footnote 7

An affirmative response to the question, ‘People living in Canada come from many different cultural and racial backgrounds. Are you: Aboriginal (North American Indian, Métis, Inuit)?' was used to identify Aboriginal respondents.

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Footnote 8

An affirmative response to Statistics Canada's original Next link will take you to another Web site indicator variable on immigrant status was used to identify immigrant respondents. The indicator variable is based on a respondent's country of birth and Canadian citizenship at birth. "Recent" was defined as less than 5 years in Canada.

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Footnote 9

Urban areas are those continuously built-up areas that have a population concentration of 1,000 or more and a population density of 300 or more per square kilometre based on current census population counts. All other areas are considered rural.

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Footnote 10

The choices were the following: not enough breast milk; baby was ready for solid foods; inconvenience/fatigue due to breastfeeding; difficulty with breastfeeding techniques (e.g. sore nipples, engorged breasts, mastitis); medical condition in mother; medical condition in baby; mother planned to stop at this time; child weaned him/herself (e.g. baby biting, refusing breast); advice of doctor or health professional; mother returned to work/school; advice of partner/family/friends; formula equally healthy for baby; mother wanted to drink alcohol; mother wanted to smoke; and, other.

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