Complementary feeding practices of tribal mothers to their Infants and Young Children in Kerala

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Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health


Problem: As WHO recommends, timely and optimal introduction of complementary feeding (CF) at 6th month as it complements additional energy and growth needs of young children. We know relatively little about CF practices of tribal mothers in the context of high rate of poor health and under nutrition in tribal children of Kerala. This study therefore examined the factors influencing CF practices to tribal infants and young children. Methods: We conducted a community based cross-sectional survey of 1150 tribal mother-infant pairs from five districts. We used pre-tested interview schedule for data collection. Alongside descriptive statistics, we used multiple linear regression for data analyses. Results: Around 76.2% continued BF at 6th month, 62.7% introduced CF at 6th month, 22.7% children received low or potentially harmful CF, 48.4% children received harmful CF and merely 8.6% received optimal CF. The maternal education, marital status, age at first pregnancy optimized CF and occupational status, hours of work per day, work status before pregnancy and age at marriage were inversely associated with 40% of variance (R2 = 0.40). Tribal mothers' breastfeeding duration and frequency of child bathing significantly increased optimal CF and children’ age at CF initiation. The poor breastfeeding at public place inversely associated with 44.7% variance (R2 = 0.447). Tribal mothers’ perceived difficulty for breastfeeding at public space increased CF scores and mothers who early initiated CF were more likely to feed children less-optimal (R2 = 0.365). Conclusion: Tribal mothers practice predominantly poor and potentially harmful CF to young children aged 6–24 months.



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