INFANT AND YOUNG CHILD FEEDING PRACTICES IN THE EAST END OF FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE
Adequate dietary intake may be a major determinant of the health outcome of children. This study aims at describing the infant and young child feeding practices amongst a group of mothers, factors affecting such practices and the effect of the practice on the nutritional status of the children.
Semi-closed ended questionnaire was used to address some of the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) indicators among the three hundred and forty-seven mothers.
Almost all of the index children in this study were breastfed with a majority within 30 minutes of delivery. Breast milk was the first drink in 79.8% of cases, and Exclusive breastfeeding rate was 26.3%. Breastfeeding for less than six months tends to be more prevalent among the low socioeconomic group and those who had Antenatal Care in the private clinics. Complimentary feeds for the majority of the children consisted mainly of cereal based gruels. There was a positive correlation between the nutritional status and the first drink, educational level of mother and length of breastfeeding.
Poor infant and young child feeding practices impinged negatively on the nutritional status of the children. Improved training of health care workers, female education, and empowerment are recommended.