South African Journal of Child Health

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Factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding among mothers seen at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital

UO Uchendu, AN Ikefuna, IJ Emodi


Background. Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) of babies for 6 months, as recommended by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), remains a well-recognised childhood survival strategy of great benefit in reducing infant and under-5 mortality rates.
Objectives. To evaluate the correlation of certain socio-demographic and cultural factors with the ability of mothers to practise
EBF for 6 months.
Subjects and methods. Two hundred mothers were interviewed about their knowledge of EBF and their behaviour regarding breastfeeding. The factors associated with constraints on, and motivations for, EBF were tabulated using the chi-square and Studentfs t-tests.
Results. Of 184 respondents, more than 90% had adequate knowledge of EBF. Thirty-nine (21.2%) practised EBF for all their children, while 95 (51.6%) mothers had never practised EBF with any child. Among those who provided EBF, a high maternal educational level, small family size (.4 children) and absence of opposing family beliefs were important factors. Most subjects were from the upper and middle socio-economic classes (43.6% and 53.8% respectively). Among the 95 women who never attempted EBF, a large family size, personal decision-making and family opposition, especially from grandmothers (41.1%), played significant roles.
Conclusion. The EBF rate in our environment was very low despite a high level of knowledge among mothers. Efforts must be intensified to reiterate the benefits of EBF and address the identified hindrances, via health education of the broader community to enlist family support for breastfeeding mothers. There is also a need for fewer progeny. 14 SAJCH

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