Infant nutrition in the first seven days of life in rural
Good nutrition is essential for increasing survival rates of infants. This study explored infantfeeding practices in a resource-poor setting and assessed implications for future interventionsfocused on improving newborn health.
The study took place in the Kassena-Nankana District of the Upper East Region of northernGhana.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 35 women with newborn infants, 8traditional birth attendants and local healers, and 16 community leaders. An additional 18focus group discussions were conducted with household heads, compound heads andgrandmothers.
All interviews and discussions were audio taped, transcribed verbatim andanalyzed using NVivo 9.0.
Community members are knowledgeable about the importance of breastfeeding, and mostwomen with newborn infants do attempt to breastfeed. However, data suggest that traditionalpractices related to breastfeeding and infant nutrition continue, despite knowledge of clinicalguidelines.
Such traditional practices include feeding newborn infants water, gripe water,local herbs, or traditionally meaningful foods such as water mixed with the flour of guineacorn (yara'na). In this region in Ghana, there are significant cultural traditions associated withbreastfeeding.
For example, colostrum from first-time mothers is often tested for bitterness byputting ants in it - a process that leads to a delay in initiating breastfeeding. Our data alsoindicate that grandmothers - typically the mother-in-laws - wield enormous power in thesecommunities, and their desires significantly influence breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity,and maintenance.
Prelacteal feeding is still common in rural Ghana despite demonstrating high knowledge ofappropriate feeding practices.
Future interventions that focus on grandmothers and religiousleaders are likely to prove valuable in changing community attitudes, beliefs, and practiceswith regard to infant nutrition.
Author: Raymond Akawire AborigoCheryl A MoyerSarah RominskiPhilip AdongoJohn WilliamsGideon LogoniaGideon AffahAbraham HodgsonCyril Engmann Credits/Source: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:76
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