Background. Because of rapid population growth, many countries now have very large cohorts of young people. Despite the population health importance of early child feeding practices, little work has explored the knowledge and expectations about infant feeding that youth bring with them as they transition into parenthood. Objective. To examine adolescent girls' perceptions of infant and young child feeding practices in their communities, and to assess their knowledge and expectations regarding infant and young child feeding practices and explore their overlap with current feeding recommendations. Methods. Cross-sectional data were obtained from a random sample of 1,018 girls 13 to 17 years of age living in rural, semiurban, and urban sites in southwestern Ethiopia. Surveys were used to collect information on respondents' attitudes, expectations, and perceptions within the domain of infant and young child feeding practices. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were used to describe the data. Results. A total of 1,018 girls aged 13 to 17 years were interviewed. The girls were able to report the age at which infants in their communities were provided liquids, semisolids, and solids as well as the perceived duration of breastfeeding in their communities. The girls were generally able to report when they themselves planned to provide liquids and solids to their infants and their expected duration of breastfeeding. The girls' attitudes and expectations were not consistent with exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months, and planned durations of breastfeeding were shorter than they currently perceived in their communities. Conclusions. Young nulliparous Ethiopian women have well-formed attitudes and expectations about infant and young child feeding. These are unlikely to promote currently accepted best practices. Our results suggest both the potential that suboptimal feeding practices will be reproduced and novel intervention points.
Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.
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