Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-6-2010

Journal / Book Title

Maternal and Child Health Journal


The purpose of this study was to explore how mothers of different races/ethnicities make decisions to continue exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for 6 months under the Theory of Planned Behavior. Participants were recruited from hospitals and WIC clinics in Central Indiana and Southern New Jersey from 2008 to 2009. Mothers (N = 236: 93 non-Hispanic African American, 72 non-Hispanic white, 71 Hispanic/Latina) completed a self-administered questionnaire that measured theoretical constructs and beliefs related to their intention to practice EBF for 6 months. Intentions to continue EBF for 6 months were similar (P = 0.15) across racial/ethnic groups. Significant proportions of the intention (P < 0.001) were explained by the three theoretical constructs (attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control). The relative importance of each construct in predicting the intention varied by group. The most influential predictors (P < 0.001) were the attitude for white mothers, the subjective norm for African American mothers, and perceived behavioral control for Latina mothers. Latent beliefs strongly associated with attitude in white mothers were ‘bonding with the baby’ and ‘easy feeding.’ Beliefs held by family members and the general public contributed to the subjective norm of African American mothers. Perceived behavioral control in Latina mothers was highly correlated with ‘pumping breast milk’. Development of policy and intervention programs that focus on shaping strong predictors and beliefs within racial/ethnic groups could reduce disparities in EBF rates and establish EBF for 6 months as a cultural norm.



Published Citation

Bai, Yeon, Shahla M. Wunderlich, and Alyce D. Fly. "Predicting intentions to continue exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months: A comparison among racial/ethnic groups." Maternal and child health journal 15, no. 8 (2011): 1257-1264.