Promotion and prelacteal feeding of breastmilk substitutes among mothers in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

This article was published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition Supplement: Availability, Promotion and Consumption of Commercial Infant Foods.

Abstract: In 1992, Nepal passed the Mother’s Milk Substitutes (Control of Sale and Distribution) Act in order to regulate the sale, distribution and promotion of substitutes for breastmilk within Nepal, in an effort to protect and promote breastfeeding. Helen Keller International, in collaboration with Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population’s Child Health Division, implemented a study to assess mothers’ exposure to promotions for and utilization of breastmilk substitutes in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. A health facility-based, cross-sectional survey was conducted among 304 mothers being discharged after delivery. Prelacteal feeding of breastmilk substitutes is prevalent (55.9% of mothers, n = 170). Reported recommendations during antenatal checks and after delivery from health professionals to use breastmilk substitutes were prevalent, occurring among 47.4% (n = 144) of mothers; rates of these recommendations were significantly higher for mothers that delivered in private health facilities, as compared with public (67.7% vs. 38.0%, P < 0.001). Mothers that received a recommendation to use a breastmilk substitute from a health worker were 16.7 times more likely to provide a prelacteal feed of a breastmilk substitute, as compared with mothers that did not receive a recommendation (P < 0.001). Few mothers reported observation of commercial advertisements for breastmilk substitutes inside a health facility (reported by 3.6% of mothers). No mothers reported receiving a sample of a breastmilk substitute, bottle or teat from a health professional. More information is needed to determine why there is such a high rate of health worker recommendations for breastmilk substitute use in the first few days after delivery.

Authors: Alissa M. Pries, Sandra L. Huffman, Indu Adhikary, Senendra Raj Upreti, Shrid Dhungel, Mary Champeny, and Elizabeth Zehner

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