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Infant feeding practices of mothers and nutritional status of infants in Vhembe District in the Limpopo Province

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Objective: To determine the breast-feeding and weaning practices of mothers and the nutritional status of infants in the Vhembe District of Limpopo Province. Design: A descriptive and exploratory study was done. A sample of 185 mothers with 185 infants 12 months and younger was selected from five primary healthcare clinics. A validated questionnaire, which consisted of questions relating to demographic data, breast-feeding and weaning practices, was used. The weight and length measurements of the infants were taken. Results: The majority (97%) of the mothers were still breast-feeding at the time of the interviews. Only 7,6% practised exclusive breastfeeding, however, while 43,2% had introduced solid foods at three months and 15% before two months. The weaning food given by most of the mothers was maize-meal soft porridge and had been introduced before four months of age. The Z-score classification was used and showed that stunting (18,9%), underweight (7%) and wasting (7%) were present among the infants but that only wasting was found to be a disorder of public-health significance. The nutritional status of the infants was therefore not significantly influenced by the breast-feeding and weaning practices of the mothers or other demographic parameters. Conclusion: Breast-feeding was still practised by many of the mothers but exclusive breast-feeding was rare. SAJCN Vol. 21 (2) 2008: pp. 36-41


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