Breast-, complementary- and bottle-feeding practices in Kenya: Stagnant trends were experienced from 1998 to 2009
Mbithe, David Dorcus
Matanda, D. J.
Mittelmark, M. B.
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The pattern of infant and young child feeding that provides the most benefit includes being put to the breast within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond, and avoidance of any bottle-feeding. However, since there are no published data from Kenya regarding trends in these feeding practices, this research undertook time trend estimation of these feeding practices using the 1998, 2003, and 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey and also examined the multivariate relationships between socio-demographic factors and feeding practices with data from 2008-09. Logistic regression was used to test the significance of trends and to analyze socio-demographic characteristics associated with feeding practices. There was no significant decline in early initiation of breastfeeding among children in Central and Western provinces or those residing in urban areas. Trends in exclusive breastfeeding showed significant improvement in most socio-demographic segments, while trends in complementary feeding and breastfeeding remained stable. Bottle-feeding significantly decreased among children aged 12-23 months, as well as those living in Coast, Eastern, and Rift Valley provinces. In the multivariate analysis, the province was significantly associated with feeding practices, after controlling for child’s size, birth order, and parity. The stagnant (and in some cases worsening) trends in early initiation of breastfeeding and complementary feeding with breastfeeding paints a worrisome picture of breastfeeding practices in Kenya; therefore, efforts to promote the most beneficial feeding practices should be intensified.