Exclusive Breastfeeding Study


We have developed collaborative research projects with our Cuban Colleagues. The first research project focuses on breastfeeding: “Increasing the Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding: An Approach to Non-Communicable Disease Prevention.” This study is being conducted by Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis and our liaison with Cuba: Dr. Yeneir Vera in collaboration with the Cuban National Growth and Human Development Group.

Cuban Collaborations goals:

Cuba is a leading country in early childhood development and education programs for children from conception and birth through age 6. The pragmatism of the Cuban approach to health and education, with its emphasis on making the best use of limited resources to achieve a clearly identified goal, is admirable. We believe that Cuba can be a model of early human development for low and middle income countries.

  • Identify common areas of research interest and opportunity
  • Facilitate ongoing and future research and institutional collaboration
  • Develop transdisciplinary training opportunities
  • Engage government and promote international collaboration
  • Identify potential international funding opportunities

Collaborative Breastfeeding Study – “Increasing the Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding: An Approach to Non-Communicable Disease Prevention”

The goal of this study is to increase the rates of breastfeeding among Cuban mothers.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months are very well established and include improved disease prevention, neurological development and maternal health, and although Cuba boasts some very impressive maternal-infant health statistics and initiatives, the exclusive breastfeeding rate is very low. Almost all Cuban women are breastfeeding when they leave the hospital after giving birth, but the rate drops off dramatically to below 50% after 3 months, despite the fact that working mothers in Cuba get a one-year maternity leave.

Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis and Dr. Yeneir Vera are working with the Cuban National Group of Growth and Human Development and the national pediatric group to enlist at least 300 women to take part in a 6-month survey, which will collect a multitude of information including: socio-economics, mental health, relationship data etc. Dr. Dennis will be applying her Breastfeeding Self-efficacy Scale and will also look at the role of the fathers, which is a growing area of study in breastfeeding and maternal mental health contexts.

Professor Alison Fleming is part of this study and she will include along with the national Genetic Institute genetic samples of all the women with goal to analyze the relationship between genetics, breastfeeding and mental health.

No studies of this nature have ever been conducted in Cuba, and the results and any potential interventions will be relevant in other countries around the world with a low rate of exclusive breastfeeding.

To date, 300 women and 300 babies have been recruited.