Breastfeeding Practices and Growth
Background: Breastfeeding is vital for the growth and development of infants and young children. Early initiation within the half hour of birth fosters optimal breastfeeding practice, promotes growth and development.
Objective: To evaluate breastfeeding practices and the growth of infants.
Method: This was a crosssectional survey at three immunisation clinics in Asaba metropolis of Delta state. Using a structured questionnaire, we assessed breastfeeding practice of attendees and the growth of babies and documented information on the socio demographic characteristics, breastfeeding practices, previous weights of infants’ and their Anthropometric measurements.
Results: There were 97 motherinfant/ pairs. 49 males, 48 females; giving a male to female ratio of 1:1. 20.6% were neonates, 74.2% were less than 6 months while 25.8% were older. About 50% of the mothers initiated breastfeeding within an hour of delivery, 25% of mothers gave pre-lacteal feeds. 49.5% of babies were optimally breastfed; of these, 68.7% mothers had initiated breastfeeding within an hour of birth (p=0.001). Underweight and stunting was only seen among babies of mothers who did not practice optimal breastfeeding. It was observed that babies’ weights were not documented routinely in the road to health chart of the immunization cards after the measurements were taken. This was a missed opportunity for counselling and health promotion.
Conclusion: Early initiation of breastfeeding increases the probability of optimal breastfeeding practice and prevents infant malnutrition. Even though growth was assessed, the information was not utilized for feed back to the mothers at the well-baby clinics, growth monitoring and promotion was not supported at the well-baby clinics in the health centres.
Keywords: Breastfeeding Initiation, Growth