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Issack Yakub Jamaa - Candidate School of Public Health, Moi University, Kenya

Dr. Grace A. Keverenge Ettyang - Lecturer School of Public Health, Moi University, Kenya

Elizabeth Kimani Murage - Lecturer School of Public Health, Moi University, Kenya


Exclusive breastfeeding for infants from birth to six months is regarded as one of the best practices for infant survival and health. However some practices are reducing exclusive breastfeeding in many sub-Saharan African countries more so in Kenya where the practice is still low at 61%. Factors affecting exclusive breastfeeding from child birth to six months of age have not been well researched in Wajir County. The main objective of the study was to determine the prevalence and factors that influence the practice of exclusive breastfeeding among mothers of children aged 0-6 months. The study further aimed to find the perceptions and practices about exclusive breastfeeding among the study participants. Across-sectional study was conducted among 124 mothers with infants 0-6 months visiting Wajir county referral hospital. Systematic sampling technique was used to get the desired sample size of 124 after sampling interval of 3. A researcher-administered questionnaire (structured and semi-structured) and in-depth interview guide was used to collect data. Ten in-depth interviews were conducted among mothers and traditional birth attendants to investigate infant feeding practices. Data was analysed through SPSS. Descriptive analysis were done through Chi-square test and cross tabulation on the relationship between various independent variables and exclusive breastfeeding done. Research results indicated that majority of the mothers interviewed were between 20-30 years, the youngest were 20 years and the eldest 39 years. The median age of the mothers was 25 years. Majority (88.7%) of the mothers were married, (5.6%) were divorced, and the same proportion were (5.6%) widowed. The mean and median age of the infants in the study was 3.4 and 3 months respectively. Fifty five percent of the infants were female and 45% were male. Slightly over half (55%) of the study participants practiced exclusive breastfeeding. The study found that exclusive breastfeeding was influenced by parents (39.3%), mothers own decisions (37.5%) and health workers (21.4%). Almost all (96%) of mothers acknowledged the importance of colostrum as healthy for the baby, while 58% stated that breast milk is sufficient for the child for the first six months. Delayed milk production and illness were two major reasons for alternative food given to the child represented by 26% and 22% respectively. In the univariate analysis maternal exclusive breastfeeding knowledge, place of delivery and maternal education were found to have significant association with exclusive breastfeeding. The results showed positive association between Maternal EBF knowledge (P=0.0411) and mother`s education (P= 0.022). The number of children and place of delivery have also shown positive significant correlation at (P=0.029) and (P =0.0311) respectively with EBF. Infant age was found to negatively influence adherence to exclusive breastfeeding as the rate decline when the infant advance in age. Based on the findings exclusive breastfeeding in Wajir County is below the national level (61%) and much lower than the recommended WHO threshold 90%. Negative attitudes such as delay milk production & insufficient breast milk should be address as they affect exclusive breastfeeding. It was therefore recommended that negative attitudes and perception should be addressed as they affect adherence to EBF. Community based health education approach should be used to reach mother-in-law, husband and other influential people like TBA as they influence EBF.

Full Length Research (PDF Format)