South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Adherence to infant-feeding choices by HIV-infected mothers at a Nigerian tertiary hospital: the pre-“rapid advice” experience

CU Onubogu, EF Ugochukwu, I Egbuonu, IN Onyeka


Objectives: The study examined adherence to infant-feeding choices made by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected mothers at a Nigerian tertiary hospital prior to implementation of the “rapid advice” guideline, i.e. the revised World Health Organisation principles and recommendations on infant feeding in the context of HIV.
Design: This was a longitudinal descriptive study.
Subjects and settings: The study was conducted on mother-infant pairs recruited from the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria. Final analyses included 142 mother-infant pairs.
Outcome measures: Adherence to a prenatal infant-feeding choice and the infant’s HIV status at six months of age were determined.
Results: On enrolment, 73% (n = 103) of the mothers chose exclusive formula feeding (EFF), and 28% (n = 39) exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of life. Of the mothers who chose EBF, the actual practice of EBF declined from 88% at two weeks to 21% at six months, while EFF with correctly reconstituted infant formula decreased from 55% to 8% over the same period. The proportion of mothers who switched over to early complementary feeding increased from 8% at six weeks to 80% at six months in the EBF group, and 2% at two weeks to 92% at six months in the EFF group. Major reasons for nonadherence to their initial choice were fear of the mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV (65%) and non-affordability of the formula (97%) in the EBF and EFF groups, respectively. Factors significantly associated with adherence to their initial choice included having individual prenatal infant-feeding counselling sessions, being married, having a small number of children, being of higher socio-economic status and the mother’s educational status. However, only socio-economic status remained significant after logistic regression analysis was applied. The total MTCT of HIV rate was 1% at six months.
Conclusion: Adherence to either EFF or EBF in this study was low, owing to early breastfeeding cessation and the inability to sustain EFF.

Keywords: HIV-infected mothers, infant-feeding choice, infant-feeding practices, PMTCT, adherence
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