Infant Feeding Practices of HIV positive Mothers in Lusaka District
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Despite the high prevalence of breastfeeding (98%) in Zambia, the majority of infants are not fed in compliance with WHO/UNICEF recommendation. The recommendation calls for a period of exclusive breastfeeding for six months and introduction of complementary foods between six and nine months while continuing with breastfeeding up to two years. Only 40% of infants less than six months of age are exclusively breastfed in Zambia (Central Statistical Office et al, 2002).The objective of the study was to determine whether HIV positive women do provide mixed feeding to their infants contrary to WHO/UNICEF recommendation. A total of 125 HIV positive mothers and 125 HIV negative mothers were recruited for the study. Both groups were identified from the PMTCT register at Mtendere Health Centre in Lusaka using simple random sampling. The mothers were identified as they came for postnatal clinic and children’s clinic. A structured questionnaire was used to interview the respondents.The study revealed that mixed feeding is practiced by both HIV positive mothers and HIV negative mothers (p<0.001). 35.2% of HIV positive mothers and 2.4% of HIV negative mothers provided pre lacteal feeds in form of water or glucose to their infants in the first one hour of birth. Foods such as cereal, porridge, juices, vegetables and fruits were introduced to infants as early as in the first month by both HIV positive and HIV negative mothers.The study revealed that mixed feeding is practiced by HIV positive mothers and starts soon after delivery. The tendency to mixed feeding highlights the importance of strengthening infant feeding counselling and follow up support to HIV positive mothers.
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