Cultural beliefs and practices related to infant health and development among Nigerian immigrant mothers in Italy.

by Ughetta Moscardino, Oge Nwobu, Giovanna Axia
Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology ()


This study examined the cultural beliefs and practices related to infant health and development in a group of first-generation, immigrant Nigerian mothers in Italy. Twenty-nine mothers of infants aged 2-12 months participated in a semi-structured interview conducted at their homes, with the collaboration of a female Nigerian informant. Maternal responses were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Two cultural models of the child were identified: the first centred around the infants' physical health and well-being, and supports the idea of a 'pediatric' model stressing the importance of survival, health and physical growth in order to protect babies from mortal diseases and environmental risks. The second model concerned the early attainment of personal and social autonomy, which mothers tended to promote by fostering infants' motor skills and adaptability in terms of attending to multiple caregivers (e.g. teachers at nursery school). Overall, maternal beliefs and practices largely reflected the traditional Nigerian culture, although some aspects were influenced by the ecology of the host society. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

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