Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nutrition

Major Professor

Katherine F. Kavanagh

Committee Members

Sarah E. Colby, Marsha L. Spence

Abstract

Background: In Honduras, over 95% of mothers initiate breastfeeding but less than a third meet the World Health Organization recommendation to exclusively breastfeed through 6 months. Understanding the breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, prior exposure and future intent of young adults may provide significant insight into the relatively low exclusivity rates reported in the Honduran population and may be important targets for future interventions in this population. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to explore these concepts among young adults in Honduras.

Objective: The objective of this study was to describe, identify, and explore any relationships between demographics, breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, prior exposure, and future breastfeeding intent in a sample of undergraduate students in Honduras.

Methods: This was an exploratory, cross-sectional study, conducted with a convenience sample of 283 undergraduate students attending a major public university in Honduras in February 2015.

Results: Honduran undergraduate students have moderate breastfeeding knowledge, neutral breastfeeding attitudes, high prior breastfeeding exposure, and high intention to breastfeed or support their partners to breastfeed in the future. Knowledge on the health benefits of breastfeeding was low. Less than a third of students knew that women who have breastfed have a lower risk of breast cancer (28.8%) and only 47.9% knew that breastfeeding helps prevent respiratory infections in the infant. Slightly over half of students considered breastfeeding in public to be acceptable (53.4%) and less than a third reported that seeing a woman breastfeeding in public would make them uncomfortable (28.2%). Over three-fourths of students (82.0%) expressed an intention to breastfeed or support a partner to breastfeed in the future, though female students were more likely to report this intention than male students (88.8% vs. 74.4%, p<0.05).

Conclusion: Due to the high breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in Honduras, the finding that students reported a high level of prior breastfeeding exposure and future breastfeeding intent, was not particularly surprising. However, future research is needed to explore the moderate breastfeeding knowledge and neutral breastfeeding attitudes among young adults in Honduras to support the maintenance of the current breastfeeding initiation and duration rates and increase breastfeeding exclusivity rates.

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