Implications of formula feeding to reduce HIV transmission

  • Frederick J Veldman School of Health Technology,Technikon Free State, Bloemfontein
  • Jaco D Brink School of Health Technology,Technikon Free State, Bloemfontein


Background. The risk of vertical transmission of HIV during breast-feeding has prompted renewed interest in the role of supplementary feeding during childhood. However, it is also known that supplementary feeding is an important vector of disease transmission. The aim of this study was to investigate the level of microbial contamination present in bottle feeds given to infants living in Mangaung, South Africa.
Methods. The study followed a cross-sectional design. Two hundred randomly selected households were visited and caregivers of bottle-feeding infants in the selected area were requested to provide a sample of the infants\' bottle feed. Nutritional and microbial content of each bottle feed were measured. Bottle feeds were classified as unfit for human consumption if they had a standard plate count greater than 50 000 organisms per millilitre feed, or a total coliform count greater than 10 coliform organisms per millilitre.
Findings. A total of 84.5% of all the bottle feeds were classified as unfit for human consumption. There was no major difference in nutritional quality of the fit and unfit feeds. The infants receiving unfit bottle feeds were younger than those receiving fit bottle feeds (11.1 ± 6.9 months compared with 14.0 ± 7.6 months, respectively; p = 0.010) and also weighed less.
Interpretation. This finding underlines the need to address the content of feeding literacy programmes. Bottle-feeding in Mangaung is currently not a safe alternative to breast-feeding and should therefore not be promoted.
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine Vol. 5 (3) 2004: 38-41

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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693