Weaning practices of Indochinese refugee infants
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the weaning practices of Indochinese refugees. Maternal food habits and cultural factors affecting the methods used in infant weaning were also’explored. Infant physical status was assessed to evaluate if the weaning practices were appropriate. A questionnaire was developed and data was collected in northern Illinois. This sample consisted of 22 mothers ranging in age from 23 to 35 years who had children who were 5 months to 2 years old. The diets of the mothers consisted mainly of traditional foods. The increased frequency of American food usage after arrival indicated that the sample had adapted to American life gradually. A majority of respondents (n=18) needed assistance to know and use the new foods. There was a trend away from breast-feeding (n=10) toward formula-feeding (n=9) as compared to practices in Indochina. There was not a correlation noted between feeding method and duration. The formula-fed infants were generally the last to have solid foods introduced. The main reason given for the addition of solids was personal factors, and the appropriate timing for introduction depended on personal judgement and the physician's advice. The birth weight and length were in the normal ranges compared to American standards. The growth rate slowed over time; as the children got older, those differences did become more obvious as compared to American counterparts. The fact that Indochinese children are smaller is undoubtedly related to genetic factors. Although dietary practices had undergone some changes in the refugee mothers, traditional food beliefs still had significant effects on infant weaning.