Breastfeeding and Infant and Child Mortality, in Amagoro Division of Busia District, Kenya
Akwara, Priscilla A.
This study examined the impact of breastfeeding duration and age at supplementation on infant and child mortality. Data was collected for both open and closed intervals from women aged 15-49 years and resident in Amagoro Division, Busia District, western Kenya. The study found that breastfeeding initiation is quite high, with an average of 99% of the women initiating breastfeeding. The duration of breastfeeding is long, with the majority of the women breastfeeding for 19-24 months. The major problem noted in the study is early supplementation. By the age of 3-4 months about 70% of children in the open and closed intervals were already being fed on other diets in addition to breast milk. The study also found that, for both the open and closed intervals, breastfeeding duration, age at supplementation, work status of the mother, type of toilet facility used by the household, and immunizations received by the child were significant in child survival. The major conclusion derived from the results of the study is that breastfeeding practices, environmental factors, and socio-economic factors are very significant in influencing infant and child deaths. However, the impact of breastfeeding and age at supplementation are greatly modified by environmental and socio-economic factors. The study therefore recommends the re-education of health personnel, especially those in the Maternal and Child Health clinics (MCH), on the importance of breastfeeding and proper age at supplementation for the children. The paper also recommends that female employment opportunities and female education be increased, since maternal education highly determines the work status of the mother and the nutritional, health care and sanitary conditions of the household.