AbstractBackground and aims
World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months as an optimal feeding method for infants. Latest researches in Romania showed that only 29.8% of mothers are exclusively breastfeeding their infants for 6 months. Due to the fact that internet access has improved and more than 50% of Romanians are using internet, this study aims to evaluate if internet use presents effects on mothers knowledge and attitudes about breastfeeding.Material and methods
We conducted a descriptive prospective survey using online questionnaires, posted on the most popular social media channel, and especially on online support groups for mothers. Information collected included general data, information about childbirth, one section about knowledge related to breastfeeding (maximum score 10, minimum −4), the IIFA scale (maximum score 37, minimum – 11) and current source of information regarding breastfeeding.Results
A total of 2868 women participated at the online research. After applying the exclusion criteria the final group comprised 2333 mothers. Mothers enrolled in the study reached a mean score for knowledge about breastfeeding of 7.74±2.5 SD. The score on IIFA scale regarding attitudes related to breastfeeding: 25.89±6.11 SD with a significant lower score reached by mothers from rural area (p<0.01). Data showed that mothers accessing this online questionnaires were significantly more likely to exclusively breastfeed at 6 months postpartum (63%) in comparison to general population (29.8%). Participants frequently used social media for education and social support (73%). Most of them preferred the internet for breastfeeding information (76%), instead of consulting a doctor (11%)Conclusions
This survey proved a positive effect of social media and internet as a source of information about breastfeeding on longer-term exclusive breastfeeding. Together with more traditional methods of support, the internet and social media strongly demonstrate the potential as a novel vehicle for promoting breastfeeding and other health campaigns.