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Open Access Feeding patterns and growth of term infants in Eldoret, Kenya

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Background. There are limited longitudinal data from developing countries on early infant feeding and growth patterns. In Kenya only 34.8% of infants are exclusively breastfed at 2 months. This finding is of concern, and further understanding of infant feeding and growth patterns is important.

Objective. To determine the feeding and growth patterns of Kenyan term infants during early infancy.

Methods. A longitudinal study was conducted. One hundred and fifty-one resource-constrained mother–infant pairs were recruited from the West Municipal Health Centre (WMHC) within 24 hours after birth, and subsequent follow-up was performed at the WMHC Maternal and Child Health Clinic. Data on baseline characteristics were collected with the use of a structured questionnaire. Data on nonbreastmilk liquids given to the infants and feeding patterns were gathered with the use of a 24-hour recall. Standard procedures were used to measure infant weight, recumbent length, and head circumference. World Health Organization (WHO) growth standards were used, and tests for variation between and within group means were performed, with α < .05 regarded as indicating significance.

Results. At 6 and 10 weeks, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding was 40.4% and 9.9%, respectively. The mothers cited “aids infant's digestion” (38%) as the main reason for partial breastfeeding and “breastmilk was not enough” (48%) as the main reason for predominant breastfeeding. Growth velocity based on weight was similar to that in the WHO reference group. All of the children had normal growth (z-score > –2). Mothers without knowledge about WHO/UNICEF early infant feeding recommendations and those who initiated breast-feeding more than 1 hour post partum were ninefold and eightfold more likely to start mixed feeding by 10 weeks of age, respectively.

Conclusions. There is a need to accelerate awareness of optimum infant feeding recommendations and augment the rigorous practice of the WHO Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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