Running head: Breastfeeding and the Hispanic Culture Breastfeeding and the Hispanic Culture NURB 2160 S01: Cultural and Ethical Influences on Health Care Breastfeeding and the Hispanic Culture Breastfeeding is widely regarded as the ideal nutritional system due largely to the diverse advantages for both mother and child (Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006). Based on information found in the Health Promotion Model proposed by Pender et al. , breastfeeding is not regarded as a health promoting behavior (Faraz, 2010).

A health promoting behavior can be defined as a continuous, modifiable, long term behavior that helps to prevent illness and maintain wellness (Faraz, 2010). More importantly, to maintain optimal nutrition, The American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group proposes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (Schlickau & Wilson, 2005). Faraz (2010) points out that “in the United States, breastfeeding rates have been reported as increasing in recent years; however, it is unclear from these statistics whether women are exclusively breastfeeding and for how long.

In 2006, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported breastfeeding rates as high as 76% in White women and 81% in Hispanic women in the United States. ” Furthermore, the National Immunization survey has reported exclusive breastfeeding rates of Hispanic women in the United States as 30. 9% at 3 months of life and 11. 3% by 6 months of life (Faraz, 2010). Based on the current research, it is implied that breastfeeding rates among Hispanic women in the United States are affected by the degree of acculturation and socioeconomic status (Faraz, 2010; Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006).

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Schlickau & Wilson (2005) define acculturation as “the extent to which people from one culture adapt to accommodate their behavior and thoughts to their perceptions of the norms of a second culture” (Rassin et al. 1994, p. 740). The distinctive components affecting the degree of acculturation are generation, length of time in the United States, and submission to American lifestyle (Faraz, 2010; Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006).

Furthermore, current research has shown when the degree of acculturation is increased in Hispanic women, the occurrence of breastfeeding decreases (Faraz, 2010; Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006; Schlickau & Wilson, 2005). Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn (2006) point out that breastfeeding behavior in Hispanic women may be related to the “Hispanic paradox”, in which positive health outcomes of Hispanics outweigh their socioeconomic status in comparison to other population of similar economic status (Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006).

More importantly, advocates of the paradox believe that decreasing levels of acculturation will foster protection from damaging effects of Hispanics engaging in American health behaviors (Gibson-Davis & Brooks-Gunn, 2006). In the 1999-2000 study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, results showed the degree of acculturation can be accurately measured by the Short Acculturation Scale (SAS) (Faraz, 2010).

According to the SAS, it was determined from the sample group that correlations exist between acculturation, length of time living in the United States, and anticipated relation to Americans (Faraz, 2010). Although it is unclear what transpires during the course of a Hispanic woman’s acculturation process, what is understood is the process will have a negative effect on her decision to breastfeed (Faraz, 2010; Schlickau & Wilson, 2005). Frequently, women choose to breastfeed regardless of race or cultural tradition. Faraz (2010) has determined the importance for a woman to balance the benefits and the deterrents to breastfeeding.

According to a review by Schlickau & Wilson (2005), the main factors that influence breastfeeding in the Hispanic population are acculturation, family and social support, confidence, self-support, and competing demands. It appears that family and social support are the most important elements when Hispanic women make the decision to breastfeed (Faraz, 2010). It is important to consider a Hispanic woman’s support system, such as her mother, partner, and friends, and incorporate them into their breastfeeding program (Faraz, 2010).

As stated earlier, breastfeeding provides advantages to both mother and child. Breast milk is known to decrease inner ear and respiratory tract infections, reduce infant mortality, and reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity and diabetes (Faraz, 2010; Schlickau & Wilson, 2005). Another important benefit to breastfeeding is the enhanced bonding in the mother-child relationship and childhood emotional adaptation (Faraz, 2010). Coincidently, the benefits of breastfeeding also positively affect the mother. Research has shown that the occurrence of ovarian cancer and remenopausal breast can is reduced in women who breastfeed (Faraz, 2010). In conclusion, further research is needed in order to understand the acculturation process and its impact on breastfeeding (Faraz, 2010). Future information will provide helpful hints for the advancement of breastfeeding among Hispanic women (Faraz, 2010). Furthermore, nurses and other health care professionals must continue to provide culturally congruent care and maintain a holistic approach when developing a plan to encourage breastfeeding in Hispanic women.

Nurses must also conduct a thorough assessment in order to devise a plan which will reveal all challenges faced when a mother decides whether or not breastfeeding is right for her and her baby (Faraz, 2010). Moreover, all breastfeeding programs must incorporate Hispanic culture and language as a vehicle to continue to increase breastfeeding among the Hispanic population (Faraz, 2010). References Faraz, A. (2010). Clinical recommendations for promoting breastfeeding among Hispanic women.

Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 22(6), 292-299. dio: 10. 1111/j. 1745-7599. 2010. 00510. x. Gibson-Davis, C. , & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2006). Couples’ Immigration Status and Ethnicity As Determinants of Breastfeeding. American Journal of Public Health, 96(4). dio: 10. 2105/AJPH. 2005. 064840. Schlickau, J. , & Wilson, M. (2005). Breastfeeding as health promoting behavior for Hispanic women: literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52(2), 200-210. dio: 10. 1111/j. 1365-2648. 2005. 03579. x.


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