Chikere Ifeanyi Casmir Ebirim1*, Ugonma Winnie Dozie1, Wanwuri Akor2, Ijeoma Judith Dozie3 and Oluchi Agatha Ashiegbu4
1Department of Public Health, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria
2Deparment of Public Health, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Nigeria
3Department of Family Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos Nigeria
4Institute of Health Research, University of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
Received: 27 June, 2016; Accepted: 28 July, 2016; Published: 01 August, 2016
Chikere Ifeanyi Casmir Ebirim, Department of Public Health, Federal University of Technology, P.M.B 1526, Owerri, Nigeria, Tel: +2348038870206; +2347089439208; E-mail:
Casmir Ebirim CI, Dozie UW, Akor W, Dozie IJ, Ashiegbu OA (2016) Exclusive Breastfeeding Practice and Associated Maternal Socio-Demographic Factors among Mothers Attending Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, South-Eastern Nigeria. Arch Community Med Public Health 2(1): 027-031. DOI: 10.17352/2455-5479.000013
© 2016 Casmir Ebirim CI, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Exclusive breastfeeding practice; Socio-demographic factors; Owerri; Nigeria
Introduction: Breast milk is unique and contains the entire nutritional requirement a new born infants needs for the first year of life. Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as the consumption of no other food or liquids except breast milk and drops or syrups consisting of vitamin-mineral supplements or medicines for at least 4 months and if possible the first 6 months of life. The aim of this study was to determine the socio-demographic factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding practice in Imo specialist hospital, Owerri, south-eastern Nigeria.
Methods: A cross sectional survey was adopted for this study and 450 randomly selected mothers of infants who visited Imo State Specialist Hospital for post-natal care were recruited for the study. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on socio-demographic characteristics and infant exclusive breastfeeding pattern. Only mothers who gave their consent were recruited and confidentiality of information was maintained throughout the study period.
Result: The result indicated that majority of the mothers 192 (42.7%) were aged between 25 – 29 years and 225 (50%) attained tertiary education. Most of the mothers were either trader 167(37.1%) or civil servant (36.0%). The result indicated that 78 (17.3%) of the mothers exclusively breastfed their baby’s for at least 4 months, while only 27 (6.0%) of the mothers exclusively breastfed their infants for up 6 months. Initiation of breast milk to infant revealed that 174 (38.7%) of the mothers initiated breastfeeding less than an hour after delivery, 150 (33.3%) initiated breastfeeding within 2 – 24 hrs. Socio-demographic factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding practice (4 – 6 months) includes age (χ2 = 28.8149, p < 0.001), educational attainment (χ2 = 7.6934, p < 0.021) and average monthly income (χ2 = 30.8472, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: In view of the findings of this study, Mothers should be well informed about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding on the child. Health care providers should also be trained on the principles of exclusive breastfeeding so that they can inform mothers on the best way to practice exclusive breastfeeding. Government should make policies to extend the period of maternity leave from 3 months to 6 months as this will help employed mothers achieve a complete exclusive breastfeeding practice and reduce the problem of child morbidity and mortality in Owerri in particular and Nigeria in general.
Breast milk is unique and the best food for new born infants for the first year of life or longer . Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as the consumption of no other food or liquids except breast milk and drops or syrups consisting of vitamin-mineral supplements or medicines for at least 4 months and if possible the first 6 months of life . World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that exclusive breastfeeding is the perfect nutrition for infants globally. According to their reports, it is sufficient to support optimal growth for the first six months of life [3-5]. Infants who are exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months, also experience fewer illnesses from gastrointestinal infections compared with their counterparts that received human milk substitute (HMS) from 3 or 4 months of age. Also, neonatal deaths were 22% lower among infants who were initiated to breastfeeding within the first hours of birth . The benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and infants are well recognized in Nigeria and efforts made by the government to promote breastfeeding have contributed to its resurgence in Nigeria. Despite these proven benefits of breastfeeding, reports suggest that duration of lactation is not increasing; level of exclusive breastfeeding practices in Nigeria is low, while, initiation of breastfeeding after birth is generally delayed. Brown, (2007), opined that these facts of breastfeeding vary significantly with race, ethnic differences, and availability of health care facilities, work place, and community characteristics . In Nigeria there is sparse information on the influence of socio-demographic factors on exclusive breastfeeding practice, more especially in south-eastern part of the country. Therefore this study was designed to elucidate information on the practice of exclusive breastfeeding and associated maternal factors in Owerri, south-eastern Nigeria.
Materials and Methods
A cross sectional survey design was used to investigate mothers of infants aged 6 - 12 months who brought their baby to the post natal clinic, Imo state specialist hospital, Owerri, for various reasons between february – May 2016. Information was obtained on breastfeeding patterns for each infant and basic mother’s socio-demographic characteristics.
Four hundred and fifty (450) randomly selected mothers of infants aged 6 - 12 months, visiting the centre for their child’s immunization and other child’s welfare counseling were randomly selected for the study. The following inclusion criteria were defined for participation: Child must be within the age range 6 -12 months at the time of selection. This group was selected to ensure they had finished exclusive breastfeeding and closer enough to remember and give accurate responses as regards their practice. Mothers who gave consent for the study; guardian must be the infant’s mother.
A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on socio-demographic characteristics and breastfeeding practices among mothers of selected infants. The questionnaire was prepared in english and was self-administered. Ethical clearance for the study was obtained from the medical director, Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri. The study was conducted in accordance with regulations for health surveys. Specific oral information on the purposes of the study was given to mothers, and their oral consents obtained before inclusion in the study. Confidentiality of information was maintained throughout the study.
The data collected, was subjected to statistical analysis by classifying them into some purposeful and usable categories through coding operation, editing and tabulation using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 21 software. Analyses were performed based on the computation of various frequencies and percentages, while chi-square was done for test of statistical significance for associated maternal factor, all analysis were considered statistically significant at p < 0.05.
Socio-demographic characteristics of the mothers
The socio-demographic characteristics of the mothers revealed that majority 192 (42.7%) of the mothers were within the age group 25 – 29 years and the least 12 (2.7%) were aged 39 years & above. All the mothers had formal education; half 225 (50.0%) attained tertiary education while 54 (12.0%) attained only a primary education. Most mothers were either trader 167 (37.1%) or civil servant 162 (36.0%) while only a few 9 (2.0%) were famers. More than half 240 (53.3%) of the mothers said they earn income of less than 10,000 Naira ($ 33.3) per month while only 27 (6.0%) admitted earning above 70,000 Naira ($ 233.3) per month (Table 1).
Exclusive breastfeeding practice among mothers
The result indicated that of the 450 mothers studied, majority of 441 (98.0%) of the mothers’ breastfed their babies while very few 9 (2.0%) did not breastfeed at all. Also the result indicated that more than half 252 (56.0%) were breastfed exclusively for some time before introducing complementary feeding. Furthermore, the result revealed that 174 (38.7%) were exclusively breastfed for 3 months or less, 51 (11.3%) were exclusively breastfed for at least 4 – 5 months. However, only 27 (6.0%) infants were exclusively breastfed for six months as recommended by World Health Organization (Figure 1). Therefore, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months was 17.3 percent, representing 78 mothers out of a total of 450 participants (Figure 2).
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