Assessment of exclusive breastfeeding in the health and developmental status of under-five children who present at the primary health care centre, Aba South LGA, Aba, Abia State

  • Anya O
  • Iroaganachi CG
Keywords: Knowledge; Attitude; Practice; Exclusive Breastfeeding; Aba South L.G.A; Abia State



Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the child survival strategies according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Breast milk is an essential component for the health and development of children. Lack of adequate knowledge or practice of exclusive breastfeeding can predispose the child to several, common childhood illnesses.


The objective of the study was to assess the level of knowledge and practice of exclusive breastfeeding, and its effect on the health and development of under-five children who present at the Primary health Care Centre, Aba South, Aba, Abia State.


This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study using a self/Interviewer-administered questionnaire to obtain information from mothers of children who presented at the Immunization and Maternity units of the centre. Data collected was analyzed using IBM SPSS version 20.0 while statistical significance was set at P<0.05.


400 eligible participants took part in this cross-sectional study where majority (65%) was above 27 years of age, nearly all (96.3%) were Igbos and Christians (98.8%). Most respondents were married 384 (96.0%), over two-thirds, 249 (62.3%) had attained tertiary level of education and 150 (37.5%) had at least two children. Similar proportions (82.3%) knew that exclusive breastfeeding was breast milk only from birth till 6months and that breastfeeding should be on demand with feeding on each breast lasting about 20 minutes (37%). 385 (96.3%) accepted breastfeeding to be important in the health and development their children while 221 (55.3%) agreed that the duration of time to breastfeed was 6 months.

Among the study participants, 264 (66.0%) claimed to practice exclusive breastfeeding while 131 (32.8%) did not. 373 (93.3%) of the women did not discard the first breast milk while among those who discarded, 3.9% claimed it was due to maternal advice, friends and others. Factors found to hinder women from breastfeeding included state of health, size of breast being too small, work place and one’s spouse.

In determining the morbidity and mortality associated with lack of breastfeeding, 181 (45.3%) had no recollection of how long they breastfed. 360 (90.0%) believed that breastfeeding for long was important for the health of their child. 255 (63.9%) stated they did not visit the hospital frequently following common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, and 363 (90.8%) felt their child was growing well with age.

In determining the relationship between exclusive breastfeeding to the growth and development of the child, 204 (51.0%) reported their child achieved head control at 2-3 months, 291 (72.8%) reported sitting without support at 4-6 months, 286 (71.5%) crawled from 6-7 months, 262 (65.5%) started walking before one year and 295 (73.8%) formed a word at 2 years.



The level of knowledge and practice of exclusive breastfeeding affected the health and development status of the under-five children.


There is need for an increased level of health education to mothers and the community at large as regards the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. There is also need for establishment of health policies that kick against certain cultural factors that endanger breastfeeding practice.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0794-6961