BACKGROUND: Breastmilk is the best nourishment for an infant for the first 6 months of life. Health professionals like medical doctors and dentists can help promote and support exclusive breastfeeding. We aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes, exposure, and future intentions toward exclusive breastfeeding among final year medical and dental students at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malaysia.
METHODS: A total of 162 students participated in this cross-sectional study that was conducted between May and September of 2015. Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect the variables of interest.
RESULTS: Most students knew exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life (98.1%). However, some students incorrectly thought formula milk can be given if the infant appears hungry after having been breastfed (61.7%). Additionally, some incorrectly thought expressed breastmilk can be warmed on direct heat (47.5%) and left-over expressed milk can be re-stored (60.5%). Most students agreed that exclusive breastfeeding is easier to practice than formula feeding and that it is the best choice for working mothers. Most students (93.2%) intend to breastfeed their children, and this intention was significantly associated with their experience being breastfed as infants and attitudes toward exclusive breastfeeding.
CONCLUSION: Generally, final year medical and dental students have favorable attitudes and future intentions toward exclusive breastfeeding, although some of them lacked knowledge about certain important aspects of the practice. Past experience of being exclusively breastfed and a more positive attitude toward the practice were associated with their future intentions to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.