Factors influencing the practice of exclusive breastfeeding among the mothers
Abdullah Al Saleh
Introduction: Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is an essential part of early infant feeding. Promotion of EBF is the single most cost-effective intervention for reducing infant mortality in developing countries. Understanding the factors influencing EBF is crucial to promote this essential feeding policy during infancy. Objective: This study was carried out to identify factors influencing the practice of EBF among mothers. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted at the National Guard Comprehensive Specialized Clinic in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The study population consisted of 500 mother–infant pairs attending the pediatrics clinic. Data were collected by direct interviews using a predesigned questionnaire. The collected data were tabulated and statistically analyzed. Results: Out of 500 infants enrolled in the study, 54 (10.8%) were EBF. The prevalence of exclusive formula feeding and mixed (breast and formula) feeding was 57% and 32.2%, respectively. Statistically significant factors promoting EBF were age of mother, parity, mother’s work status, and antenatal advice. The most common reason for nonexclusive breastfeeding was inadequate breast milk production followed by maternal work. Conclusions: The majority of mothers presented suboptimal breastfeeding practices. Programs promoting exclusive breastfeeding should therefore vigorously pursue public awareness on EBF practice during the first six months of the life of an infant.