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Curtin University
Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health

The Prevalence and Determinants of Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding Practices in Infants in Rural Western Australia (2010-2015)


Chief Investigators:

Project Manager/PhD Candidate:

  • Ms Kylee Cox


  • Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship – Curtin University

Project Objectives

The objectives of this study are:

  • To document the breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among rural mothers.
  • To identify factors, which encourage mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding.
  • To identify factors which discourage mothers from commencing and maintaining breastfeeding.
  • To document opinions on the social context of breastfeeding in rural areas.
  • To identify resources used by rural women to obtain information about and support for breastfeeding.
  • To compare the results with the Perth Infant Feeding Study (PIFS) I and II, Perth Aboriginal Breastfeeding Study (PABS) and Darling Downs Studies.
  • To make recommendations for the development of health promotion programs based on the findings of this study.
  • To develop strategies and interventions to improve breastfeeding duration in rural communities.

Project Overview

This proposed study will be the first longitudinal study of breastfeeding in rural Australia to collect data beyond six months and to document the introduction of complementary foods. It will document the current infant feeding practices, including breastfeeding, the use of infant formula and the introduction of complementary foods in rural Western Australia. The factors involved in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding will be documented, analysed and reported so that intervention strategies can be developed to lessen the barriers to breastfeeding in rural communities.

The proposed study will test the following hypothesis:

  • Breastfeeding rates (exclusive and any breastfeeding) will be lower in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Breastfeeding initiation and duration will be related to maternal education level, age and income level, the time the infant feeding decision was made, the fathers support, smoking status of mothers, planned pregnancy, ethnic background, BMI and the degree of remoteness.
  • Rural mothers will have more difficulty in accessing support for breastfeeding problems.
  • Breastfeeding support following birth increases breastfeeding duration.
  • Solid foods will be introduced earlier in rural areas than in urban areas.

Associated Projects

Conference Presentations

  • Cox, K. (2010) Breastfeeding in Regional Western Australia: What help do Rural Women need? Community Health Nurses National Conference, Geraldton, WA, 26-28 August 2010.