n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Factors associated with mixed feeding practices among HIV positive post-natal women in Merafong sub-district, Gauteng Province, South Africa : public health intervention for maternal and child health

Supplement 2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The World Health Organization estimates that globally, less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is particularly lower in low-resourced countries than in developed countries. The study determined feeding practices, factors that influence mixed feeding, and reasons mothers adopt the infant feeding practices. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 202 HIV-positive post-natal women who were mothers of babies aged six weeks to nine months. Mothers were recruited from primary health care facilities offering prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services in Merafong sub-district, Gauteng province, South Africa. Exclusive formula feeding (EFF) was the preferred feeding option (n=113, 56.8%). Two thirds (n=66, 58.9%) of the mothers opted for EFF because they did not want to infect their babies with HIV. Over half (n=109, 55.6%) practiced mixed feeding. EBF mothers' reasons for mixed feeding were related to their perceptions of insufficient breast milk to satisfy the baby (n=53, 50.9%) while EFF mothers wanted their babies to gain weight (n=41, 36%). Adhering to initial feeding was associated with previous enrolment in PMTCT and inversely associated with introducing complementary and traditional medicines. Adhering to initial feeding choice was difficult for EBF and EFF mothers. There is need for interventions to educate mothers and significant others on the adequacy of breast milk and to encourage HIV positive mothers to initiate and sustain EBF. Interventions should also address cultural practices that threaten the success of PMTCT in reducing HIV transmission.

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