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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Exclusive Breast feeding: Factors Related to Success or Failure

Author(s): Nabanita Bhattacharyya, Mrinal Kanti Das

Vol. 31, No. 2 (2006-04 - 2006-06)

The present study was undertaken to find out the prevalence exclusive breast feeding (EBF) practiced for 4-6 months by mothers having babies 8-12 months old in order to ascertain some factors which could be related to success or failure of EBF. Information was collected in a pre-tested structural questionnaire; breast feeding for 4-6 months was taken as EBF for this study carried out in the Pediatric Outpatient Department, Burdwan Medical College for a period of 2 weeks in April 2003, 3 sessions being held each week. A total of 120 mothers were selected by random sampling. 60 mothers were interviewed each week, 20 in each session.

The mothers were grouped into EBF successful and EBF unsuccessful ones, with 86 (71.66%) in the former and 34 (28.34%) in the later. In unsucessful group 26 mothers used complementary feeds (cow milk, fruit juice, honey, dal, boiled and mashed vegetables) along with breast milk and the rest 8 gave commercial milk preparations and/or cow milk. The stated reasons for not following EBF was maternal illness in 15 inadequate milk secretion in 12 and complementary feeds or water considered essential in 2. Maternal age, literacy and family structure were not significant factors (p > 0.05) as also antenatal care which was uniform in both the groups. However, EBF was more successful in institutional and normal deliveries (p < 0.05) as also in babies of first birth order. It did not matter significantly whether the advice on breast feeding was received from doctor/nurse or others. Early initiation of breast feeding resulted in successful EBF. In the successful group, breast feeding was initiated within 1/2 hour in 58 mothers and after 1/2 hour in 28 mothers and in the unsuccessful group it was 12 and 14 respectively. Studies in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai showed1 that breast feeding though initiated, could not be sustained exclusively upto 6 months in 40-60% of cases under low socio-economic conditions. Other recent studies2,3 have also shown failure of EBF which our observations corroborate. The present study highlights the importance of institutional normal delivery and early rooming in for the success of EBF. The role of baby-friendly hospital initiatives, training of mothers' self-help and increasing community awareness and active participation need much more emphasis.


  1. Gopujkar PV, Caudhuri SN, Ramaswami MA, Core MS, Gopalan C. An Extract of the Report on Infant-feeding Practices with Special Reference to the use of Commercial Infant Foods. Nutrition Foundation of India, UNICEF, 1984, New Delhi.
  2. Ram R, Ghosh MN, Saha JB, Bhattacharya SK, Halder A, Chatterjee C. Breast feeding practices in the rural community of district Derjeeling, West Bengal. Indian J. Community Medicine, 2000; 25: 79-81.
  3. Taneja DK, Saha R, Dabas P, Gautam VP, Tripathy Y, Mehra M. A study of infant feeding practices and the underlying factors ill a rural area of Delhi. Indian J. Community Medicine, 2003; 28: 107-111.

Nabanita Bhattacharyya, Assistant Professor
Department of Community Medicine
Mrinal Kanti Das, Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Burdwan Medical College, Burdwan, West Bengal
Received: 31.08.2004

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