Effects of different feeding options on infants born to HIV positive mothers in Nakuru Municipality, Kenya
Sawe, Judith Jelagat
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Effective breastfeeding and appropriate weaning practices make an important contribution to the good health and development of children with effects reflecting up to adulthood. Since human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may be transmitted to the infant through breast milk, HIV infected women should be assisted in choosing appropriate means of feeding their infants by providing them with complete and accurate information. Studies have shown that without any intervention, 30 - 40% of children born to HIV positive mothers get infected with the virus. Of these, 5 - 15% transmissions occur post-natally through breast milk. In order to prevent mother to child transmission (MTCT), infants should be exclusively breast fed after birth then abruptly stopped after a short duration. This is followed by various replacement foods that have been suggested where possible. Amongst the feeding options given for HIV positive women are infant formula, breast feeding with early ceasation, or other breast milk substitutes such as animal milk, heat treated breast milk or wet nursing. Sustained access to safely prepared nutritionally adequate breast milk substitutes would result in the lowest risk of disease and death. WHO recommends that breast feeding be avoided in HIV positive mothers when replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe. However the effect of different feeding options on infants born to HIV positive mothers in most urban centers in developing countries has not been well documented. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of different feeding options on infants born to HIV positive mothers in Nakuru Municipality. A descriptive cross-sectional study design was adopted. The target population was all infants aged 0-10 weeks born to HIV positive mothers in Nakuru Provincial General Hospital, Kapkures and Langalanga Health centers, all in Nakuru Municipality. Convenience sampling was used and a sample size of 140 was' obtained. Data was collected using questionnaires and was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 13). ANOV A was used to compare the mean weight and length of infants in different health facilities. Chi-square was also used to test for relationships among categorical variables. In addition, a length for age, weight for age and weight forlength z-scores were evaluated using WHO Anthro 2005 Software Package to determine infants' nutritional status. Results showed that exclusively breast fed infants had good nutritional status, better growth and health. Relationship between infant feeding option and morbidity were signi¥ant at 5% significance level (r test, P= o. 000). Conclusion: Exclusive breast feeding is the cornerstone of public health. The study recommended that it is important to aggressively promote exclusive breast feeding among HIV positive women.