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Open Access Research

Feeding practices among children attending child welfare clinics in Ragama MOH area: a descriptive cross-sectional study

Priyantha J Perera1*, Meranthi Fernando2, Tania Warnakulasuria2 and Nayomi Ranathunga3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and North Colombo Teaching Hospital Ragama, Sri Lanka

2 Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

3 Clinical skills laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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International Breastfeeding Journal 2011, 6:18  doi:10.1186/1746-4358-6-18

Published: 21 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Feeding during early childhood is important for normal physical and mental growth as well as for health in later life. Currently, Sri Lanka has adopted the WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by addition of complementary feeds thereafter, with continuation of breastfeeding up to or beyond two years. This study was conducted to evaluate the current feeding practices among Sri Lankan children during early childhood.

Methods

This study was a descriptive cross-sectional study conducted in the Ragama Medical Officer of Health (MOH) area. It was conducted between 10 August 2010 and 30 October 2010. Children between the ages of 24 and 60 months, attending child welfare clinics, were included in the study on consecutive basis. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to collect data regarding sociodemographic characteristics and feeding practices.

Results

There were 208 boys and 202 girls in the study population. Of them, 255 (62.2%) were exclusively breastfed up to 6 months. Younger children had a statistically significant, higher rate of exclusive breastfeeding compared to older children. Three hundred and fifty one (85.6%) children had received infant formula, and it was started before the age of 6 months in 61 children, and in 212 before one year. Sugar was added to infant formula in 330 (80.4%) children, and out of them 144 had sugar added within first year of life. Complementary foods were started before 4 months in 29 (7%) children. Of the 410 children, 294 (71.7%) were breastfed beyond 2 years and 41.6% of them were breastfed at regular intervals throughout the day. Three hundred and thirty eight (82.6%) children were receiving overnight feeding of either breast milk or infant formula even after 2 years.

Conclusions

Though a high rate of exclusive breastfeeding was observed in this study population, there are many other issues related to feeding during the early years of life that need immediate intervention. Too early introduction of complementary food, using infant formula without an indication, adding sugar to infant formula, too frequent breastfeeding and overnight feeding of older children are among them.