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• Familial, medical, and cultural attitudes and norms

• Demographic and economic conditions

• Commercial pressures

• National and international policies and norms

Figure 1 Determinants of infant feeding behaviors.

breast feeding behaviors or lack thereof results from a complex series of physiological and behavioral interactions between a mother and her infant—interactions that take place within a larger familial, community, and global setting (Figure 1). Although breast feeding occurs when a mother puts her child to the breast or allows her toddler to suckle, a woman's decision to breast feed and to act on this decision are dependent on a number of determinants, not all of which favor breast-feeding or are within her control. These determinants include infant feeding attitudes and norms among family members, the medical profession, peers, and employers; the availability of information and access to skilled assistance to prevent and/or address breast-feeding (BF) problems; and, during the period of BF initiation and exclusive breast feeding, nearly unrestricted access between mother and infant.

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