Socio-cultural determinants of breast feeding practices in Dharwad district of Karnataka

Vinutha U. Muktamath, Sunanda Itagi


WHO recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the childs
first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. The infant mortality
rate in India is 40/1000 live births and 31/1000 live births in Karnataka according to
NFHS-4 report released in 2013. In India, breastfeeding is culturally well accepted
but inadequately practiced, partly due to ignorance. Lack of knowledge, prevailing
misconceptions and cultural taboos significantly contribute to undesirable breastfeeding
practices such as delayed initiation and discarding of colostrum. In this context the
present study was conducted to study the knowledge, attitude and breast feeding
practices among the lactating mothers in Dharwad district of Northern Karnataka. A
cross-sectional study was conducted in rural and urban areas of Dharwad district,
Karnataka. The population of the study consisted of mother infant dyads, where the
infants were in the age group of 3months to 24 months and their mothers from rural as
well as urban area of the district. The sample comprised of 300 women of whom 200
were from rural area and 100 from urban area in the age range of 17-45 years. The
tools used for the study were Socio economic status scale developed by Aggarwal et
al. (2005) and a self structured questionnaire to document the mother and child health
characters, demographic profile, feeding practices, patterns and knowledge of mothers
towards breast feeding. Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale (1999) was used to assess
maternal attitude towards infant feeding and information regarding feeding choice.
The results indicated that 56.33 per cent breastfed the baby within 1hr and 26 per cent
fed after 3 days. Majority of the mothers fed colostrum (71.67%) and 28.33 per cent
discarded the colostrum. 51.33 per cent mothers gave prelacteal feeds. 48.7 per cent
mothers practiced exclusive breast feeding. Majority of mothers both in urban and
rural area had medium level knowledge and attitude towards breast feeding. Breast
feeding knowledge had significant association with feeding practices while SES had
no impact.


Exclusive breast feeding, Prelacteal feeds, SES, Knowledge, Attitude


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