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The Effect of Attitudes Toward Breastfeeding in Public on Breastfeeding Rates and Duration: Results from South Korea

  • LoCASCIO, Sarah Prusoff (Center for Asian Public Opinion Research & Collaboration Initiative, Chungnam National University) ;
  • Cho, Hee Won (Department of Psychology, College of Social Science, Seoul National University)
  • Received : 2017.08.21
  • Accepted : 2017.08.28
  • Published : 2017.08.31

Abstract

Background: Attitudes toward breastfeeding in public are one potential barrier to optimal breastfeeding rates and durations. Method: Questions about breastfeeding experience and attitudes toward breastfeeding in public were asked in face-to-face interviews as part of the Korean Academic Multimode Open Survey (KAMOS), May-July, 2017. The response rate was 65.8% (2000 respondents nationwide). Results: A majority of Koreans disagreed (1 or 2 on a 4-point scale) with the statement "Women should not breastfeed their child in open, public places" (53.9%) and agreed (3 or 4 on the 4-part Likert scale) with the statements "I do not feel uncomfortable seeing women breastfeed their child in open, public places" (64.0%) and "Breastfeeding a baby, instead of letting the baby cry, in public places is better for other people" (71.8%). However, despite these generally positive attitudes, the majority also said that they would not breastfeed in public (57.4% of women) or, in the case of men, would not want a close female relative to do so (63.8% of men). Breastfeeding in public was positively correlated with the duration of breastfeeding. People were more positive about breastfeeding in public if they: were parents; did not use formula and breastfeeding a similar amount; had children who had been breastfed in public; were older; were Buddhists rather than Christians. An attempt was made to compare attitudes toward breastfeeding in public and breastfeeding durations internationally, but was inconclusive due to not perfectly comparable data. Conclusion: Our results may be useful in planning public health campaigns in South Korea or future attempts at international comparisons to better understand and address the effect of public opinion regarding breastfeeding in public on breastfeeding rates and durations.

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