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Factors That Influence The Feeding Practices And Nutritional Status Of Infants In Nsu Town




The study is on “Factors that influence the feeding practices and nutritional status of infants in nsu town”. The study has four objectives, the area for this study is NSU town; it is one of the major towns in Ehime L.G.A of Imo State. The samples were selected from the population of mothers who have infants currently within the age of 6 months. To determine the sample size, the yaroYemen’s formula will be used, where n=N/1+N (e2) the data were collected using pre-tested questionnaires and anthropometric method. The findings show that the population of women who practice exclusive breastfeeding in Nsu town till 6 months is very low compared to those who do not, the decision to either breastfeed exclusively till 6months or not was mainly determined by the level of education and orientation received by the mothers, the women for not completing the recommended 6months of exclusive breastfeeding by WHO, the differences in height/length, weight and health between infants breastfeed exclusively till 6months and those who stopped exclusive breastfeeding before 6months Based on the findings, the following recommendations were made:- Orientation and information that mothers in the rural areas have about the breast milk and exclusive breastfeeding could be improved if the hospitals and maternities in the areas begin to utilize the antenatal periods as the time to equip the mothers with information on best feeding practices, how to continue without giving up and why it is necessary. The public health sector of the government should embark on enlightenment programmes on the usefulness of exclusive breastfeeding through the religious groups, bill boards, village meetings and seminars in rural areas.



Over the years International Health Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) have made varying degrees of efforts and policies towards ensuring the optimum health of infants and mothers to achieve a reduced rate of infant and maternal mortality. Some of these programmes and policies are the baby friendly hospital initiative, the world breastfeeding day programme which promotes exclusive breastfeeding practices and initiation of breast milk within the first one hour of birth.

History has it that from the period Prof. Ransome Olukoye Kuti was the minister for health, Nigeria still has much work to do for the large population to embrace optimum family Health. Professor Ransome Olukoye Kuti (a renowed paediatrician), in his bid to revolutionalise the Nigeria health sector provided a foothold for the institutionalization of primary health care, founded a named society for family health whose main focus was to enhance child health services and family planning in Nigeria. His major emphasis was on preventive medicine particularly on prevention of child hood disease. This is the basis for good family health in Nigeria, beginning from infancy.

According to the WHO in 2008, exclusive breastfeeding means giving infants only breast milk and small amounts of oral rehydration solutions, vitamins, minerals for a given period of time. In order to achieve optimum growth, development and health, the WHO in 2003 recommended that infant’s life should basically begin with excusive breastfeeding for the first six (6) months of life. In line with this UNICEF in 2006 explained that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six (6) months of life improves the baby’s response to vaccination, stimulates the baby’s immune system and protects them from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections which are the two (2) major causes of infant mortality in the developing world.

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Breastfeeding should be continued along with the addition of solid foods when the infant is six (6) months of age, for at least 12 months or as long as is mutually desired by both mother and child (American Academy of family Physicians (AAFP) 2008). This recommendation of AAFP have been associated with good health as Fisk et al. (2010) confirms that it is associated with substantial reduction in the burden of infections.

Breastfeeding has the following benefits for the child. for growth, the child’s birth weight doubles at 5-6 months and becomes 2 ½ times the birth weight at one year and which is a lesser weight compared to the formula fed babies, this is in line with the findings of systematic reviews and meta-analysis suggestion that there is a protective effect against overweight and obesity than against overweight (Horta et al 2007). The child is less likely to die of gastro intestinal infections, diarrhoea and others at infancy (such as allergies and asthma).

According to Leon- cava et al (2002), association between Breastfeeding and a number of chronic or non-communicable diseases including allergies, Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cohort’s disease have been observed by various studies.

According to Venneman et al (2009), Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by up to 50% at all ages through infancy. A 15 year old Cohort study hypothesized that Breastfeeding was associated with protection against maternally perpetuated child maltreatment, particularly child neglect (Strathearn et al, 2009).

Breastfeeding has a unique biological and emotional influence on the health of both the mother and the young child; it is furthermore an important determinant of infant health in the prevention of malnutrition and infections.

For the mother, Breastfeeding reduces the risks of fatal post- partum haemorrhage, risk of breast and ovarian cancer, anaemia and helps space births. Breastfeeding allows the mother to recuperate before conceiving again (Leon- Cava et al 2002).

The benefit of Breastfeeding extends beyond the mother and the child but also causes positive health and economic changes locally and globally (Murtagh and Moulton, 2011). In spite of all of these benefits, several studies have shown that mothers find it difficult to meet personal goals and to adhere to the expert recommendations for continued and exclusive Breastfeeding.

From the well being foundation Africa in her August 2012 publication on the importance of Breastfeeding for 2012 Breastfeeding week, “while the benefits of Breastfeeding infants are innumerable only 39% of all infants under 6 months in the developing world are exclusively breasted (UNICEF 2012). According to UNICEF, nutrition indications, the highest rates of exclusive Breastfeeding are currently found in Eastern / Southern Africa (49%) and South Asia (45%) and the lowest is West central Africa (24%). As stated in the Nigeria Federal Ministry of health’s 2011 saving new born lives report, Nigeria has one of the lowest exclusive Breastfeeding rates in the African continent with recent data indicating that the percentage of infants exclusively breastfed to the age of 6 months has decreased from 17% in 2003 to 13% in 2008. In addition only 38% of Nigerian newborns are breastfed within one hour of birth.

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Also during the launch of the World Breastfeeding week on the 3rd of August 2015, the permanent secretary, the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Awute, represented by Dr. Bridget Okeoguale, director of public health said that Nigeria has the poorest exclusive Breastfeeding rate in Africa with only 17% of the children being exclusively breastfed.

The baby friendly hospital initiative was introduced in Nigeria in 1992 to help educate and encourage Breastfeeding practice among mothers. Some studies in Nigeria have shown that mothers who delivered in a health institution designated as baby friendly are more likely to practice exclusive Breastfeeding and Breastfeed their infants for a longer time. However a national survey done in 2008 showed that EBF rates still remains very low (13%) in Nigeria.

As a developing country, one does not expect Nigeria to attain the highest level of infants care through proper Breastfeeding and nutrition. It is only hoped that families which are product of the large society will play their natural roles in this issue appropriately so that the future of the very young is secured.

Mananga et al (2014) said that nutrition plays an important role in the health and development of individuals. This statement supports the description of nutritional status by Onimawo (2001), as the condition of the body as it relates to the consumption and the utilization of food. The implication is that the health status of infants is determined by the quality of food the infant is fed with. The WHO’s recommendation of exclusive Breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is because the breast milk has been certified to contain basically the required nutrients for infant’s growth and development.

The feeding practices adopted by mothers depend on the knowledge, attitude and socio-cultural tradition they are exposed to (Onah et al (2014). Owing to this recent finding have shown that mothers still do not understand why their sucking babies should not be given ordinary water as it is not in line with their traditions. Several studies have documented the impact of cultural factors, material age, marital status, family income/ social class, mode of delivery, time of initiation of first Breastfeeding and proximity to babies on feeding and proximity to babies on feeding pattern.

Outside maternal factors, studies have shown that babies’ general behaviour influences what food they eat, this study tries to investigate the factors that influence the infant feeding practices and reasons why mothers adopt these infant feeding practices in Nsu town of Ehime Mbano L.G.A, Imo State.

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1.2   Statement of the Problem

Approximately 1.5 million infants die each year due to lack of knowledge about the benefits of exclusive Breastfeeding and improper infant and young child feeding practices (Ngugen 2009). International health organizations like WHO encourage the practice of exclusive Breastfeeding by introducing the baby friendly hospital initiative (BFHI) and encouraging the establishment of work place Breastfeeding facilities though these and other efforts promotes excusive Breastfeeding in the urban areas, it does not sustain it in the rural areas.

Most times the adoption of exclusive Breastfeeding does not hold due to lack of support from family, unfavourable work place for Breastfeeding, poor maternal health, not supported by tradition, and generally the Breastfeeding intention.

Improper weaning is the major reason for infant feeding problems like, refused to eat, colic, vomiting and others, these poses a challenge for mothers and influences the child’s feeding pattern and health.

The predictions of Breastfeeding and feeding practices vary between and within countries, urban and rural area age, health status, knowledge about proper practices, societal barriers and more, hence this study.

1.3    Objective of the Study

The aim of this study is to investigate the feeding practices and nutritional status of infants in NSU town. This study identified the factors that influence the practice and determine if feeding practices adopted are proper.

1.4    Specific objective of the study

This study will seek to:

  • To find out the extent of the practice of exclusive Breastfeeding in the area.
  • To discover the factors that determine the time of initiation of complementary feeding in the area.
  • To determine the characteristic differences between infants that were started on complimentary foods at 6 months and those that started before 6 months.
  • To establish maternal knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on exclusive Breastfeeding in NSU town.

1.5    Significance of the Study

This study will generate information on the factors that influences the feeding practices usually adopted in a poor resource setting. It will also form the foundation for further studies by researchers in the area of infant’s health, feeding and growth in rural areas especially in NSU town.

The study will give a clearer view and aid better understanding of exclusive Breastfeeding practices to students who study courses related to Breastfeeding and other feeding practices of infants.

Findings from this study will expose the level of infant care, feeding and health of infants in NSU to health care providers who should be in charge of health in NSU town, so that they will know how to help the community and other rural dwellers.

The society at large will also benefit from this study as this study will expose and correct the wrong feeding practices and through that infant mortality will be reduced in the area, thereby reducing the total world infant mortality rate.

Pages:  57

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5                                 

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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