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Breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in rural Malawi

Breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in rural Malawi

Acta Paediatrica 90(3): 328-332

To facilitate optimal growth of newborns, many countries have developed infant feeding recommendations, usually suggesting 4-6 mo of exclusive breastfeeding and then the gradual introduction of complementary foods. We prospectively studied the changes in infant diets and predictors of adherence to national infant feeding recommendations in a cohort of 720 newborn babies in rural Malawi, Sub-Saharan Africa. Monthly interviews of the main guardians indicated that breastfeeding was universal for 18 mo. As most babies were given water or other supplemental foods soon after birth, the exclusive breastfeeding rates were only 19%, 8%, 2% and 0% at ages 1, 2, 3 and 4 mo, respectively. Complementary foods and family foods were introduced at median ages of 2.5 and 6.3 mo, i.e. much earlier than recommended. Better adherence to recommendations was associated with smaller number of children in the family, increased maternal education and some other socio-economic or environmental variables. Exclusive breastfeeding is uncommon and complementary foods were introduced early to newborns among these rural families. Education and family planning may improve adherence to infant feeding recommendations and reduce the incidence of early childhood malnutrition in Malawi.

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Accession: 003373108

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11332176

DOI: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2001.tb00313.x

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