There have been few studies investigating the association between food security and breast-feeding duration and none have been conducted among Canadian Inuit, a population disproportionately burdened with food insecurity. We evaluated the association between household food security and breast-feeding duration in Canadian Inuit children.
Data were obtained from the Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, a population-based cross-sectional survey.
The Canadian Territory of Nunavut in 2007 and 2008.
Caregivers of Inuit children aged 3-5 years. Participating children were randomly sampled from community medical centre lists.
Out of 215 children, 147 lived in food-insecure households (68·4 %). Using restricted mean survival time models, we estimated that children in food-secure households were breast-fed for 16·8 (95 % CI 12·5, 21·2) months and children in food-insecure households were breast-fed for 21·4 (95 % CI 17·9, 24·8) months. In models adjusting for social class, traditional knowledge and child health, household food security was not associated with breast-feeding duration (hazard ratio=0·82, 95 % CI 0·58, 1·14).
Our research does not support the hypothesis that children living in food-insecure households were breast-fed for a longer duration than children living in food-secure households. However, we found that more than 50 % of mothers in food-insecure households continued breast-feeding well beyond 1 year. Many mothers in food-secure households also continued to breast-feed beyond 1 year. Given the high prevalence of food insecurity in Inuit communities, we need to ensure infants and their caregivers are being adequately nourished to support growth and breast-feeding, respectively.