Knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding infant feeding among mothers of children with severe acute malnutrition in the rural areas of Northern India
Introduction: Malnutrition has been identified as one of the principal causes limiting India’s global economic potential. The infant and young child-feeding practices determine the nutritional status, growth and ultimately the survival of infants and young children. The study aimed to assess the knowledge, attitude and practices of rural mothers with children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) regarding infant feeding.
Methodology: A hospital-based cross-sectional descriptive study on 116 mothers from the rural area of Northern India with children diagnosed with SAM. Assessment of knowledge, attitude and practice of mothers regarding infant feeding was done through face to face interviews using a structured questionnaire containing 32 questions.
Results: The mean age of admitted children was 14.48 ± 4.71 months. The majority of mothers (81.9%) studied till only primary school or were illiterate. The appropriate knowledge about early initiation of breastfeeding and the ideal time to start complementary feeding was found in 42.4% and 45.6% of mothers respectively which was suboptimal. The attitude towards ideal breastfeeding practices was positive in most mothers. However in practice only 59.4% of mothers exclusively breastfed their babies till 6 months and 54.3% delayed initiation of complementary feed beyond 9 months of age. The frequency of complementary feeding was inadequate in the 6-8 months age group as stated by 88.6% of mothers and minimum dietary diversity was not followed by 68.1% of mothers.
Conclusion: The knowledge and positive attitude towards infant feeding are not applied in practice by mothers. Efforts should be made to improve knowledge, attitude and practice with an emphasis on complementary feeding indicators to reduce the burden of malnutrition in the rural population.
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