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Early Inuit Child Health in Canada: Report 2: Breastfeeding among Inuit in Canada

By January 5, 2012 No Comments

Reports have been emerging that suggest Inuit have rates of breastfeeding that are lower than other Aboriginal populations in Canada, and lower than the national average(1). This is in contrast to historical reports of early child feeding for Inuit in the Canadian Arctic where it is said that breastfeeding was the traditional way of feeding an infant and continued for a long time relative to general Canadian population. A child would usually be weaned when the mother became pregnant with her next child. On average this was 3 years but it was not uncommon to have children as old as five years still being breastfed(2). The Inuit Children’s Health report(3) based on the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) of 2001 and the Indigenous Children’s Health Report: Health Assessment in Action(1) based on the Aboriginal Children’s Survey (ACS) of 2006 both reported breastfeeding initiation for all Inuit children at 66% compared to 80% for the rest of Canada.

Since breastfeeding has the potential of preventing infant mortality, reducing chronic diseases, improving immunity, and strengthening maternal-infant bond, exploration of the factors influencing the breastfeeding practices of Inuit mothers might help inform efforts to increase the rate. This report used questions from the 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey (ACS) to analyze the breastfeeding practices and the factors that maybe influencing breastfeeding among Inuit mothers.