Rates of and factors associated with exclusive and any breastfeeding at six months in Canada: an analysis of population-based cross-sectional data Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Abstract Background Breastfeeding has many health, economic and environmental benefits for both the infant and pregnant individual. Due to these benefits, the World Health Organization and Health Canada recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence of exclusive and any breastfeeding in Canada for at least six months, and factors associated with breastfeeding cessation prior to six months. Methods We performed a secondary analysis of breastfeeding-related questions asked on the cross-sectional 2017–2018 Canadian Community Health Survey. Our sample comprised 5,392 females aged 15–55 who had given birth in the five years preceding the survey. Descriptive statistics were carried out to assess the proportion of females exclusively breastfeeding and doing any breastfeeding for at least six months by demographic and behavioural factors. We also assessed, by baby’s age, trends in the introduction of solids and liquids, breastfeeding cessation and the reasons females stopped breastfeeding. Multivariate log binominal regression was used to examine the association between breastfeeding at six months and selected maternal characteristics hypothesized a priori to be associated with breastfeeding behaviour. Results Overall, for at least six months, 35.6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 33.3%-37.8%) of females breastfed exclusively and 62.2% (95% CI: 60.0%-64.4%) did any breastfeeding. The largest decline in exclusive breastfeeding occurred in the first month. Factors most strongly associated with breastfeeding for at least six months were having a bachelor’s or higher degree, having a normal body mass index, being married and daily co-sleeping. Insufficient milk supply was given as the most common reason for breastfeeding cessation irrespective of when females stopped breastfeeding. Conclusion Six-month exclusive breastfeeding rates in Canada remain below targets set by the World Health Assembly. Continued efforts, including investment in monitoring of breastfeeding rates, are needed to promote and support exclusive breastfeeding, especially among females vulnerable to early cessation.


  • Ricci, Christina
  • Otterman, Victoria
  • Bennett, Terri-Lyn
  • Metcalfe, Stephanie
  • Darling, Elizabeth
  • Semenic, Sonia
  • Dzakpasu, Susie

publication date

  • January 23, 2023