Roles of Income and Acculturation in the Hispanic Paradox: Breastfeeding Among Hispanic Women

Publication Year


Journal Article


Despite Hispanics’ high prevalence of breastfeeding compared to other racial/ethnic groups, contributing factors remain unclear. This study examines the complex relationship among Hispanic nativity, acculturation, income, and breastfeeding.


The Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study baseline (1998–2000) and Year 1 data (1999–2001) were used, including 4,077 women (933 non-Hispanic white, 2,046 non-Hispanic Black, 352 US-born Mexicans [USM], 299 US-born other Hispanics [USH], 302 foreign-born Mexicans [FBM], and 145 foreign-born other Hispanics [FBH]). Logistic regression estimated odds ratios(OR) and 95% confidence intervals(CI) for associations between Hispanic nativity and breastfeeding initiation and 4-month and 6-month breastfeeding, accounting for acculturation (Spanish language use, cultural engagement, religiosity, and traditional gender role attitudes), demographics, income, and health factors. Models were run for the overall sample and stratified by low vs. high income (above median: $21,600).


FBM(OR:2.35, 95%CI 1.33,4.15) and FBH(OR:2.28, 95%CI 1.23,4.24) had higher odds, while USM(OR:0.55, 95%CI 0.41,0.73) and USH(OR:0.50, 95%CI 0.37,0.67) had lower odds of breastfeeding initiation, compared to white women. USM had lower odds of 4-month(OR:0.53, 95%CI 0.36,0.80) and 6-month breastfeeding(OR:0.38, 95%CI 0.23,0.63), as did USH for 4-month(OR:0.64, 95%CI 0.42,0.99) and 6-month breastfeeding(OR:0.50, 95%CI 0.30,0.85). In stratified models, low-income (vs. high-income) FBH had higher odds of breastfeeding initiation(OR:3.73 95%CI 1.43,9.75) and 4-month(OR:3.01 95%CI 1.12,8.04) and 6-month breastfeeding(OR:3.08 95%CI 1.07,8.88), yet effects of acculturation across income strata are inconsistent.

Conclusions for Practice

The Hispanic paradox operates differentially due to nativity, income, and acculturation. Breastfeeding intervention and promotion may require tailored approaches to Hispanic subgroups.

Maternal and Child Health Journal