Factors influencing exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) in Empowered Action Group (EAG) states and Assam

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Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health


Background and objectives: Exclusive breast feeding (EBF) has important protective effects on the survival of infants and decreasing risk for many early-life diseases of children. The purpose of this study was to find the patterns or factors associated with exclusive breast feeding and its variation among 8 Empowered Action Group (EAG) states and Assam. Materials and methods: The study utilized a secondary data source namely “Annual Health Survey (AHS) - 3” which covered nearly 4.3 million people from 8 EAG states and Assam. Exploratory factor analysis and Pearson's correlation coefficient were employed to identify the patterns or factors associated with exclusive breast feeding among 8 EAG states and Assam. One-way analysis of variance was used to determine how the factors which are significantly associated with EBF varied across the 9 states. Results: The Exploratory Factor Analysis identified 5 factors namely demographic characteristics, mortality, age at marriage, population and fertility. Among these, demographic characteristics, mortality and age at marriage were significantly negatively correlated with the variable percentage of children (aged 6–35 months) exclusively breast fed for at least six months. One way analysis of variance showed that these 3 factors varied significantly across the 9 states. Conclusion: In the light of high child mortality in these states, the finding of this study seems to be highly relevant for the health-care policy makers. The study points out at some indicators relating to demographic characteristics, child mortality and female age at marriage upon whose reduction is likely to bring about an improvement in exclusive breast feeding practice in the 9 concerned socio-economically backward states of India.

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