Breastfeeding practices among immigrants and natives in France, from the ELFE cohort

By Claire Kersuzan, Christine Tichit, Xavier Thierry, Beatrice van Hoorn Alkema

In France, as in English-speaking countries, rates of breastfeeding at birth vary significantly between native mothers (67%) and immigrant mothers (88%). Using data from the French Longitudinal Study of Children (Étude longitudinale française depuis l’enfance, ELFE), this article aims to describe breastfeeding practices (initiation and duration) according to the parents’ geographical origin. Migration status (migrant/non-migrant) has more effect than migration origin (native with/without immigrant background) on differences in breastfeeding. Regardless of region of birth, immigrant mothers breastfeed more at birth and at six months than natives. Immigrants from the Maghreb breastfeed the most in the maternity hospital (93%) and those born in a sub-Saharan African country breastfeed the most at six months (55%). Having an immigrant husband has a positive effect on breastfeeding in natives, whether or not they have a migrant background. On the other hand, marital diversity has little effect on the breastfeeding practices of immigrants. However, the correlation between the mother’s foreign origin and breastfeeding is reduced in the second generation. African descendants from an endogamous marriage breastfeed slightly more at birth.


  • breastfeeding
  • foreign origin
  • immigrant
  • second generation
  • social and cultural differentiation
  • infant feeding
  • health
  • ELFE
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