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Wake Forest University

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

Kenya: Development, Health, and Society

Abstract

Breastfeeding is an unparalleled way of providing nourishment for the infant child in the first few years of life. A large body of literature supports that exclusive breastfeeding is optimal for the first 6 months of life, while complementary foods should be introduced in the diet 6 months and beyond. Mothers who inadequately wean their children are defined as having introduced complementary foods prior to 6 months post-natal age. The inclusive purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of inadequate weaning practices among patients and mothers of patients of the Muslim Education and Welfare Association Medical Centre (MMC) and to propose specific intervention plans for the MMC so that the education of its staff and mothers concerning adequate weaning methods and proper breastfeeding could be maintained or advanced for the improvement of infant and child health statuses in the District. The study took place in the Mombasa District at the MMC with two additional interviews of midwives in the region. A total of 59 mothers and 10 health professionals were interviewed; one interview was discarded for the final analysis. The study findings illustrate that 65% of mothers of the sample cohort inadequately weaned their children and of this percentage 43% observed an increase in illness of the weanling. Various factors were found to have influenced the mothers’ decisions to wean. Based on the suggested need for intervention methods from the study findings, plans were proposed to the MMC at the end of the study in hopes of increasing the public health of infant and child patients at the Centre. The study findings were further confirmed through the interviews with health professionals who similarly noted a correlation between inadequate weaning and poor infant health. Additional research is recommended to confirm the findings of this study; however, according to the present observations, a correlation exists between inadequate weaning practices and the decreased health statuses of infants and children.

Disciplines

Maternal and Child Health

 

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