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n South African Journal of Child Health - Infant feeding practices during the first 6 months of life in a low-income area of the Western Cape Province : research

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Abstract

Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life protects against infant morbidity and mortality. Few studies describe the infant feeding practices of mothers living in low-income areas of the Western Cape Province of South Africa (SA).


To describe the infant feeding practices of mothers of infants younger than 6 months in two low-income communities of SA.
A cross-sectional community-based study using a structured questionnaire, and seven focus group discussions were conducted from February to August 2011 in Avian Park and Zwelethemba in Worcester, an urban area in the Western Cape.
Seventy-seven per cent of participants (=108) had initiated breastfeeding. At the time of the study, 6% (=8) breastfed exclusively. Ninety-four per cent (=132) applied suboptimal breastfeeding practices: 36% (=51) breastfed predominantly, 27% (=38) breastfed partially and 31% (=43) did not breastfeed. Ninety per cent (=126) of the mothers had introduced water, of whom 83% (=104) had done so before their infants were 1 month old. Forty-four per cent (=61) of the mothers had introduced food or formula milk, of whom 75% (=46) had done so before their infants were 3 months old. Qualitative findings indicated that gripe water, Lennon's Behoedmiddel and herbal medicines were also given to infants. Nutritive liquids and/or food most commonly given as supplementary feeds were formula milk and commercial infant cereal.
Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) during the first 6 months of life was a rare practice in these low-income communities. Water, non-prescription medicines and formula milk and/or food were introduced at an early age.

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/content/m_sajch/8/2/EJC153679
2014-05-01
2016-12-04
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