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Food and Nutrition

Breastfeeding Initiation in Canada: Key Statistics and Graphics (2009-2010)

The 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) looked at how many women who had given birth in the last 5 years breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child and their reasons for not breastfeeding.

Key statistics and graphics on breastfeeding initiation in Canada from the CCHS 2009-2010 are presented below.Footnote 1 In the descriptions below, a difference between two estimates is considered statistically significant when the 95% confidence intervals do not overlap.

Breastfeeding initiation

Breastfeeding initiation refers to mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child even if only for a short time.

Questions on breastfeeding initiation were asked of mothers between the ages of 15 and 55 who had given birth in the last 5 years.

Breastfeeding initiation in 2009-2010

  • 87.3% of Canadian mothers breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child.

Trend in breastfeeding initiation

  • The percentage of mothers who reported breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed their last child increased significantly from 81.5% in 2001 to 84.9% in 2003.
  • Since 2003, breastfeeding initiation rates have remained stable.

Breastfeeding initiation by selected socio-demographic characteristics

The percentage of mothers in Canada who initiated breastfeeding their last baby varied by selected socio-demographic characteristics.

Household income

  • Significantly fewer mothers in the lowest income quintile (81.0%) initiated breastfeeding than mothers in all other income quintiles.Footnote 2

Highest level of education attained

  • Significantly more mothers who were post-secondary graduates initiated breastfeeding (90.5%) than mothers with some post-secondary education (81.4%), secondary graduation (81.9%) or less than secondary education (76.5%).

Breastfeeding initiation by income and education, Canada, 2009-2010

Breastfeeding initiation by income and education, Canada, 2009-2010

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.
Breastfeeding initiation refers to mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child even if only for a short time.

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

Cultural/racial background

  • Significantly more mothers who were of Asian (93.5%) or Black (93.9%) cultural or racial background initiated breastfeeding their last child than did  White mothers (86.7%).Footnote 3, Footnote 4

Aboriginal status

  • Significantly fewer off-reserve Aboriginal mothersFootnote 5 initiated breastfeeding (77.8%) than did non-Aboriginal mothers (88.0%).

Immigrant status

  • Significantly more non-recent immigrantFootnote 6 (≥ 5 years) mothers initiated breastfeeding (93.1%) than did non-immigrant mothers (85.6%).

Breastfeeding initiation by cultural/racial background, Aboriginal status and immigrant status, Canada, 2009-2010

Breastfeeding initiation by cultural/racial background, Aboriginal status and immigrant status, Canada, 2009-2010

Based on information provided by females aged 15 to 55 who had a baby in the last 5 years.
Breastfeeding initiation refers to mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child even if only for a short time.

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

Mother's Age

  • At the national level, the percentage of mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their baby was similar across mothers' age groups.

Marital status

  • Significantly more married/common-law mothers (88.5%) initiated breastfeeding than mothers who were widowed/separated/divorced/single (80.6%).

Area of residence

  • Overall, no significant differences in breastfeeding initiation rates existed between mothers residing in urban areas (87.5%) and mothers residing in rural areas (86.3%).Footnote 7

Breastfeeding initiation by age, marital status and area of residence, Canada, 2009-2010

Breastfeeding initiation 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.
Breastfeeding initiation refers to mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last child even if only for a short time.

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

Breastfeeding initiation by region

In 2009-2010, the percentage of mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed their last baby in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec was significantly lower than the national average. The breastfeeding initiation rate in the Prairies and British Columbia was significantly higher than the national average.

Percentage of mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed by region, Canada, 2009-2010

Percentage of mothers who breastfed or tried to breastfeed by region, Canada, 2009-2010

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

Reasons for not breastfeeding

The top three reasons cited by mothers for not breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed their last child wereFootnote 8:

  • mother has a medical condition (20.5%);
  • bottle feeding is easier (19.8%); and,
  • breastfeeding is unappealing (19.0%).

Reason provided by mother for not breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed their last child, Canada, 2009-2010

Reason provided by mother for not breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed their last child, 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.
Complicated birth - Includes c-section, premature birth, and multiple births.
All other reasons - Includes father/partner do not want me to, mother returned to school/work early, medical condition in baby, mother wanted to smoke, mother wanted to drink alcohol, and other.

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.

Return to footnote E referrer

Footnote 1

The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2009-2010 Share File was used in deriving the estimates.

Return to first footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

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.

Return to first footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

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

Return to first footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

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 5

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

Return to first footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

An affirmative response to Statistics Canada's original 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.

Return to first footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

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.

Return to first footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

The choices were the following: bottle feeding easier; formula as good as breast milk; breastfeeding is unappealing/disgusting; father/partner do not want me to; mother returned to work/school early; c-section; medical condition in mother; medical condition in baby; premature birth; multiple births (e.g. twins); mother wanted to drink alcohol; mother wanted to smoke; and, other.

Return to first footnote 8 referrer