Determinants of Delayed Initiation of Breastfeeding: A Cross-Sectional Multicenter Study in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates

Zainab Taha, Aysha Ibrahim Al Dhaheri, Ludmilla Wikkeling-Scott, Ahmed Ali Hassan, Dimitrios Papandreou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


One of the best practices to reduce the risk of infant morbidity and mortality is the early initiation of breastfeeding, specifically within the first hour of birth, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. Limited data exist on breastfeeding initiation and its related factors in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). Therefore, the purpose of this research study was to evaluate and analyze the determinant factors associated with delayed initiation of breastfeeding among mothers with children aged <2 years old in a cross-sectional multicenter setting in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Seven governmental community and healthcare centers participated in the study from diverse geographic areas of Abu Dhabi. A trained female research assistant collected information from mothers with young children attending the centers. All participants were informed in detail about the purpose of the study and signed a written consent form. A total of 1610 mother–child pairs were included in the study. The mean (standard deviation) of maternal age and children’s age was 30.1 (5.1) years and 8.1 (5.9) months, respectively. Six hundred and four (604) (37.5%) reported delayed initiation of breastfeeding. Factors associated with delayed breastfeeding initiation were being of non-Arab nationality (adjusted odds ratio (A.O.R.) 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03, 1.63), caesarean section (AOR 2.85, 95% CI 2.26, 3.58), non-rooming-in (AOR 2.82, 95% CI 1.53, 5.21), first birth order (AOR 1.34, 95% CI 1.07, 1.69), and mothers with low-birth-weight children (AOR 3.30, 95% CI 2.18, 4.99) as was analyzed by multivariate logistic regression analysis. In conclusion, approximately four out of ten mothers delayed initiation of breastfeeding for more than one hour after delivery. The results of this study call for urgent policy changes to improve the early initiation rates of breastfeeding mothers in the U.A.E.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9048
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • United Arab Emirates
  • birth order
  • caesarean section
  • delayed initiation of breastfeeding
  • low birth weight
  • rooming-in

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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