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Inequalities in immunisation and breast feeding in an ethnically diverse urban area: cross-sectional study in Manchester, UK
  1. Deborah Baker,
  2. Adam Garrow,
  3. Christopher Shiels
  1. Centre for Social Justice Research, University of Salford, Salford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adam Garrow, Centre for Social Justice Research, University of Salford, 5th Floor Allerton Building, Frederick Road Campus, Salford M6 6PU, UK; a.garrow{at}


Objectives To examine inequalities in immunisation and breast feeding by ethnic group and their relation to relative deprivation.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Manchester, UK.

Participants 20 203 children born in Manchester (2002–2007), who had been coded as of white, mixed, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black or black British ethnicity in the Child Health System database.

Main outcome measures Breast feeding at 2 weeks post partum; uptake of triple vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) at 16 weeks post partum; uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) by the age of 2.

Results Black or black British infants had the highest rates of breast feeding at 2 weeks post partum (89%), and South Asian infants had the highest triple and MMR vaccination rates (Indian, 95%, 96%; Pakistani 95%, 95%; Bangladeshi 96%, 95%) after area level of deprivation, parity, parenthood status and age had been controlled for. White infants were least likely to be breast fed at 2 weeks post partum (36%), and to be vaccinated with triple (92%) and MMR vaccines (88%). Within the white ethnic group, lower percentages of immunisation and breast feeding were significantly associated with living in a deprived area and with increasing parity. This was not found within black or black British and Pakistani ethnic groups.

Discussion Practices that are protective of child health were consistently less likely to be adopted by white mothers living in deprived areas. Methods of health education and service delivery that are designed for the general population are unlikely to be successful in this context, and evidence of effective interventions needs to be established.

  • Breast feeding
  • child health
  • deprivation
  • ethnic minorities SI
  • immunisation

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  • Professor Deborah Baker died shortly before this article was accepted for publication.

  • Funding Manchester Primary Care Trust, NHS Manchester, Mauldeth House, Mauldeth Road, West Manchester M21 7RL, UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.