Breast-feeding and weaning practices among rural and urban mothers of Embu district, Kenya

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Nyaga, Daisy Ruguru
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Human milk contains essential nutrients required by the new born baby for proper growth and development. Nations world wide desire that children be exclusively breast-fed for four to six months and that breast-feeding continue into the second year of life with supplementary feeding. The aim of the study was to compare the breastfeeding and weaning practices among mothers in rural and urban areas of Embu District. This was achieved by determining the breast-feeding practises among rural and urban breast-feeding women and establishing the weaning practices among rural and urban mothers. This cross sectional study was undertaken in Embu District and Runyenjes sub-District Hospitals where a total number of 183 mothers of children aged between 2 weeks and 2 years were interviewed. Data was collected through structured questionnaires and triangulated using unstructured interviews. Mothers from the rural areas were 65% while 35% were from urban areas. The mothers that were breast-feeding at the time of the study were 95.1% while 4.9% were not. Only 14.8% of the mothers practised exclusive breast-feeding for 4-6 months with a majority 10.4% being from the urban area and only 4.4% from the rural area. There was a significant association between residential area and exclusive breast-feeding (x2=16.138; df-3; p=0.001).There was also a significant association between the number of times a mother breast-fed and residential area (x2=14.158; df-3; p=0.003). The mothers that had weaned their children were 85.2%. There was a significant relationship between weaning and mothers area of residence (x2=23.639; df=1; p=0.001). The foods used for weaning were mainly cow milk and water used by 42.9% of the mothers followed by maize porridge with a percentage of 30.8. A comparison of residential area and foods used for weaning revealed a significant relation at (x2=32.479; df=6; p=0.001). The mothers that used pacifier for weaning were 64.1%, 4.6% used bottle and spoon and 1.3% used cup. A comparison of utensil used and residential area revealed that there was no significant relationship (x2=6.271; df=3; p=0.099). This study concludes that weaning and breast-feeding practices differ in the rural and urban areas mainly due to different knowledge and poverty levels and it recommend implementation of measures to combat poverty and public health education among mothers.
Department of Zoological Sciences, 60p. The RJ 216 .N9 2005
Breast feeding--Kenya, Infants--weaning--Kenya