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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848


SWARTS, Susan; SALOME KRUGER, H.  and  DOLMAN, Robin C.. Factors affecting mothers' choice of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding in the lower Umfolozi district war memorial hospital, KwaZulu-Natal. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.15, n.1, pp.1-8. ISSN 2071-9736.

The aim of this study was to determine which factors influence choice of breast- versus the formula-feeding of infants. This may help to understand where the focus should lie in the promotion of breastfeeding. A structured questionnaire was completed by a 100 women and focus-group discussions were held with 22 women who delivered babies at the Lower Umfolozi District War Memorial Hospital (LUDWM) in Kwazulu-Natal. Most of the mothers (72%) chose breastfeeding and 58% intended to breastfeed for only 6 months. One-third (33%) were influenced by health care professionals and 44% of the mothers made their own decisions in their feeding method. Only one participant stated that she chose formula-feeding due to her HIV-positive status, but in the focus-group discussions, the fear of transmission of HIV through breast-milk was stated as an important reason why mothers chose replacement-feeding. Significantly more HIV-infected than uninfected mothers chose replacement-feeding as the feeding method and mothers who chose breastfeeding were significantly older than mothers who selected replacement-feeding. They made their infant-feeding decision earlier than those who chose replacement-feeding. Findings showed that the majority of women in this study did not have access to running water and flush toilets in their houses. In these areas where replacement-feeding will not be acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe, due to lack of sanitation and poor socio-economic status, health professionals should promote exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, even though there is a high prevalence of HIV infection.

Keywords : exclusive breastfeeding; HIV; Infant-feeding; mixed-feeding; mother-to-child-transmission.

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