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Free Content Infant feeding practices in western Tanzania and Uganda: implications for infant feeding recommendations for HIV-infected mothers

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Current infant feeding guidelines of UNICEF/UNAIDS/WHO for HIV-infected women recommend the avoidance of breastfeeding or to breastfeed exclusively. In the context of a prevention of HIV mother-to-child transmission programme we assessed the feeding practices in peripheral areas of Tanzania and Uganda. A total of 237 mothers in south-western Tanzania and 424 mothers in western Uganda attending urban and rural antenatal care services as well as village women were interviewed with regard to duration of breastfeeding, time of introduction of additional nutrients and type of solid and liquid nutrients. The average reported duration of breastfeeding was 24 months in Tanzania but 18 months in Uganda (P < 0.001). Solid nutrients were added on average at month 6 in both areas while liquids were given significantly earlier in Tanzania (month 4) than in Uganda (month 5; P < 0.001). A total of 19% and 48% of the study participants, respectively, stated to breastfeed their infants exclusively at the age of 4 months in Tanzania and Uganda. Age between 26 and 35 years, urban residence and ethnic group were the risk factors for earlier introduction of nutrients in Uganda. In Tanzania, solid maize porridge was the most frequent (94%) and often single nutrient given during breastfeeding, while in Uganda combinations of nutrients such as bananas, millet and beans were used. Milk was the most frequently added fluid in Uganda whereas in Tanzania various liquids such as liquid maize porridge, milk, juice or water were used. Feeding practices differed considerably in the two countries. According to the interviewees, exclusive breastfeeding was rarely practiced in Tanzania. Our findings underline the necessity to promote exclusive breastfeeding if infant feeding recommendations are to be realized and emphasize the need to assess the local situation in order to ensure that locally appropriate information and recommendations are given to the target groups.
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Keywords: HIV; PMTCT; Tanzania; Uganda; breastfeeding; feeding practices

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ), PMTCT-Project, Berlin, Germany 2:  Institute of Tropical Medicine, Charité, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany 3:  GTZ PMTCT-Project Mbeya Region, Tanzania 4:  GTZ PMTCT-Project Western Uganda, Fort Portal, Uganda

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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