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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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Factors influencing breastfeeding practices in Edo state, Nigeria

LI Salami

Abstract


The superiority of breast milk compared to other types of milk for the nourishment of the human infant offering better health benefits, has been established by various research publications. Early childhood is characterized by rapid growth, maturation of tissues and remodeling of organs. Breastfeeding is the optimal method for feeding infants. All the nutritional needs for most of these children are provided by breast milk in the right amounts and duration. In Nigeria however, young infants may not benefit
from such a practice as a result of poor early initiation and the use of other liquids undermining breast milk. The purpose of this study was to determine factors influencing breastfeeding practices in Edo State, Nigeria. A questionnaire and group interviewed were the instruments used. Data was collected from 600 randomly selected mothers of children aged 4–24 months, who visited four antenatal and children clinics. The data obtained were analysed using percentiles, means and standard deviations.
Although the findings indicated that 82 per cent of the mothers practiced breastfeeding, 66 per cent supplemented with corn gruel and glucose water, and 14 per cent used herbal brew. Only 20 per cent practiced exclusive breastfeeding. Of the possible variables affecting breastfeeding practices, proximity to baby with a mean score of 4.63 (SD ± 0.66) out of 5.00 was the most influential, and the least, family background, had a mean score of 2.32 (SD ± 0.92). The findings of the study have implications for health education programmes and breastfeeding practices. Efforts must be intensified to educate prospective mothers on the need and benefits of breastfeeding, and that the UNICEF-WHO Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative must go beyond the designated University Teaching Hospitals to other public and privately owned hospitals. The provision of crèches at the work place or market place will reduce the distance between babies and their mothers and subsequently increase the levels of breastfeeding.



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