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Factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding practices among mothers in Goba district, south east Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study

Tesfaye Setegn1*, Tefera Belachew2, Mulusew Gerbaba2, Kebede Deribe3, Amare Deribew3 and Sibhatu Biadgilign3

Author Affiliations

1 College of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing, Madawalabu University, Bale Goba, Ethiopia

2 College of Public Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Population and Family Health, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia

3 College of Public Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia

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International Breastfeeding Journal 2012, 7:17  doi:10.1186/1746-4358-7-17

Published: 27 November 2012



Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as feeding infants only breast milk, be it directly from breast or expressed, with no addition of any liquid or solids apart from drops or syrups consisting of vitamins, mineral supplements or medicine, and nothing else. Several studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months plays a great role in preventing morbidity and mortality. However, in Ethiopia a large portion of infants are not exclusively breastfed according to the infant feeding recommendations. Understanding the factors that influence exclusive breastfeeding is crucial to promoting the practice. This study was carried out to identify factors predicting exclusive breastfeeding among mothers in Bale Goba district, south east Ethiopia.


A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted from March to February 2010 involving both quantitative and qualitative data. A total of 608 mothers were selected randomly. A convenience sampling technique was used to generate the qualitative data. The qualitative data were analyzed using thematic frameworks. A multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent predictors of exclusive breastfeeding after controlling for background variables.


The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the last 24 hours preceding the survey was 71.3%. The median duration of exclusive breastfeeding was three months and mean frequency of breastfeeding was six times per day. Being unemployed [AOR: 10.4 (95% CI: 1.51, 71.50)] and age of infants of less than two months [AOR: 5.6 (95% CI: 2.28, 13.60)] were independently associated with exclusive breastfeeding.


A large proportion of infants are not exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months, despite what is recommended in the national and global infant and young child feeding (IYCF) guidelines. Employed mothers were less likely to practice exclusive breastfeeding, implying the need for promoting workplace breastfeeding practices and creating an enabling environment for exclusive breastfeeding. Extensions of maternity leave up to the first six month of child’s age to achieve optimal level of exclusive breastfeeding practices should also be looked into as an alternative solution.