Prevalence and multivariable predictors of breastfeeding outcomes in the United Arab Emirates: a prospective cohort study

Hadia Radwan, Randa Fakhry, Nick Metheny, Wegdan Baniissa, Moez Al Islam E. Faris, Reyad Shaker Obaid, Suad Al Marzooqi, Hessa Al Ghazal, Mahmoud ElHalik, Cindy Lee Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite considerable policy actions at the national and hospital levels, rates of breastfeeding in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remain below the global average. There is a need to explore the modifiable factors of breastfeeding such as maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy (BSE), support, and mental health among women in this region to guide interventions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The aim of this study was to examine the maternal predictors of any and exclusive breastfeeding in a cohort of Emirati and expatriate women residing in the UAE with a specific focus on modifiable factors. Methods: Using a prospective cohort design, Emirati and expatriate women were recruited in the immediate postpartum period (N = 374) and followed at three and 6 months postpartum between February 2018 and July 2019. Questionnaires with validated tools were used to collect information on sociodemographic characteristics, breastfeeding practices, BSE, postnatal depression, and anxiety. The main outcomes in the study were Any Breastfeeding and exclusivity practices, which were assessed at three and 6 months postpartum by asking the mother about her breastfeeding behaviour during the past 7 days. Multilevel, multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the association of different variables with breastfeeding outcomes. Results: Almost all women reported initiating breastfeeding during their stay at the hospital (n = 357), while only 263 (70.3%) initiated breastfeeding within the first hour of delivery. At 6 months postpartum, 301 (81.5%) women continued to breastfeed of whom 100 (26.7%) were doing so exclusively. Older mothers who initiated breastfeeding within 1 h of birth and were satisfied with the breastfeeding support they received from family and friends had significantly greater odds of any breastfeeding at 6 months. Whereas a clinically significant Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score, low BSE score as well as employment outside the home were associated with significantly lower odds of exclusive breastfeeding and any breastfeeding at 6 months postpartum. Conclusion: This study highlights the need to develop effective education strategies and support programs targeting these modifiable variables to improve breastfeeding outcomes among women in the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalInternational Breastfeeding Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Breastfeeding self-efficacy
  • Cohort
  • Exclusive breastfeeding
  • Postpartum depression
  • Social support
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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