Prevalence and determinants of exclusive breastfeeding; a cross sectional study in Najaf city, Iraq

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Objective: To determine the prevalence of exclusive and continued breastfeeding in an urban setting, and the factors influencing the choice.

Method: The cross-sectional study was conducted from February 1 to August 30, 2018, in Najaf, Iraq, and comprised children aged up to 2 years from 12 randomly selected primary healthcare centres. Data were collected using a predesigned questionnaire that had three parts covering the mother, the child and the demographic variables. Data was analysed using SPSS 20.

Results: Of the 373 subjects, 209(56.0%) were males. The overall mean age was 8.8± 6.2 months (range: 1-23 months), while the mean age of the mothers was 26.5±5.8 years (range: 15-46 years). Children aged <6 months were 169(45.3%), and, among them, exclusive breastfeeding was found in 66(39.1%) cases. There was significant relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and feeding of other siblings (p=0.001), admission to hospital (p=0.02), family support (p=0.009), husband's support (p=0.007). Child sickness in early life also had significant association with exclusive breastfeeding (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding was found within the reported estimate for low- and middle-income countries, but much lower than the World Health Organisation recommendation.

Key Words: Exclusive breastfeeding, Breastfeeding, Determinants, Breastfeeding continuation, Iraq.