Factors associated with breastfeeding initiation and maintenance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia: A systematic review and narrative analysis.



      Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter referred to as Aboriginal) women breastfeed at lower rates than non-Aboriginal women. Little is known about factors associated with breastfeeding specific to Aboriginal women and infants.


      Determine the protective and risk factors associated with breastfeeding for Aboriginal women in Australia.


      CINAHL, Medline, EMBASE, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane library were searched for peer-reviewed literature published between 1995 and 2021. Quantitative studies written in English reporting protective and risk factors associated with breastfeeding for Aboriginal women or women having an Aboriginal infant were included. Ten percent of papers were co-screened, and two reviewers completed data extraction. Narrative data synthesis was used.


      The initial search identified 12,091 records, with 31 full text studies retrieved, and 17 reports from 14 studies met inclusion criteria. Protective factors included living in a remote area, attending an Aboriginal-specific service, attending a regional service, higher levels of education attainment, increased maternal age, living in larger households, being partnered, and having a higher reported number of stressful events and social health issues. The identified risk factors were smoking in pregnancy, admission to SCN or NICU, and being multiparous.


      This review identified factors associated with breastfeeding for Aboriginal women. Government focus, support, and consistent funding are required to plan and implement evidence-based interventions and services for Aboriginal women and infants in urban, rural, remote, and very remote locations. Rigorous research is required to understand the Aboriginal-specific factors associated with breastfeeding to improve rates and health outcomes for Aboriginal women and infants.


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