Infants and young children feeding practices and nutritional status in two districts of Zambia

Type Journal Article - International breastfeeding journal
Title Infants and young children feeding practices and nutritional status in two districts of Zambia
Volume 10
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 5
Background: Appropriate feeding is important in improving nutrition and child survival. Documentation of
knowledge of caregiver on infant feeding is scanty in Zambia. The aim of this study was to describe feeding
practices and nutritional status among infants and young children (IYC) in two districts in Zambia: Kafue and
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between January and March 2006 using both quantitative and
qualitative methods. A questionnaire was administered to caregiver of children aged under24 months. Lengths and
weights of all children were measured. Focused group discussions were conducted in selected communities to
assess parents or guardian knowledge, attitude and practice related to infant feeding.
Results: A total of 634 caregivers (361 from Kafue and 273 from Mazabuka) participated in the study. About 311/
618 (54.0%) of the caregiver knew the definition and recommended duration of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and
when to introduce complementary feeds. Two hundred and fifty-one (81.2%) out of 310 respondents had acquired
this knowledge from the health workers. Only 145/481 (30.1%) of the respondents practiced exclusive breastfeeding
up to six months with 56/626 (8.9%) of the mothers giving prelacteal feeds. Although 596/629 (94.8%) of the
respondents reported that the child does not need anything other than breast milk in the first three days of life,
only 318/630 (50.5%) of them considered colostrum to be good. Complementary feeds were introduced early
before six months of age and were usually not of adequate quality and quantity. Three hundred and ninety-one
(64%) out of 603 caregivers knew that there would be no harm to the child if exclusively breastfed up to six
months. Most of the children’s nutritional status was normal with 25/594 (4.2%) severely stunted, 10/596 (1.7%)
severely underweight and 3/594 (0.5%) severely wasted.
Conclusions: The caregiver in the communities knew about the recommended feeding practices, but this
knowledge did not translate into good practice. Knowing that most of the mothers will breastfeed and have heard
about appropriate breastfeeding, is important in the development of sustainable strategies required to improve
feeding practices and, thus, nutritional status of children.

Related studies