Breastfeeding across geographical areas in an Italian sample of infants

Marcello Giovannini, E. Riva, G. Banderali, M. Salvioni, G. Radaelli, C. Agostoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To evaluate and compare the rates of initiation and duration of breastfeeding across geographical areas of Italy. Methods. A total of 2450 mothers, who had delivered a healthy full term infant in November 1999 in Italy, were interviewed over the first 12 months after delivery about feeding practices. Breastfeeding was classified in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Adherence to the WHO Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding was further assessed. Statistical analyses were carried out using the χ2 and log-rank tests, logistic and Cox's regressions. Results. Breastfeeding was started by 91% of mothers, ranging from 85% (Sicily) to 93% (North-east, South). At discharge the rate of exclusive breastfeeding was 77%, ranging from 57% (Sicily) to 81% (North-east, Sardinia). Mean duration of breastfeeding ranged from 3.1 (Sicily) to 6.0 months (Sardinia). Mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding ranged from 1.8 (Sicily) to 2.6 months (North-east and Sardinia). Lower adherence to the WHO steps and less favorable socio-demographic characteristics, especially lower maternal education level, smoking habits and overweight, influenced negatively both breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding. Conclusion. Differences in duration of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across geographical areas of Italy require planning of strategies for improvement, possibly account for the WHO steps and socio-demographic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Breastfeeding
  • Exclusive breastfeeding
  • Formula milk
  • WHO ten steps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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