Infant Rearing Practices in South India: A Longitudinal Study
Rearing practices are a major determinant of nutritional and health status of infants. Therefore these practices need to be better understood.
To find out infant rearing practices in the study area.
A longitudinal study was conducted on a birth cohort of 194 infants. Information on rearing practices and anthropometric measurements were recorded every month for a period of 1 year.
Only 67 (34.5%) newborns were breast fed within half an hour of delivery. Prelacteal feeds was given to 65 (33.5%) newborns and this was seen more among home deliveries (P=0.018). Demand feeding was practiced by 169 (87.1%) mothers. Exclusive breast feeding (EBF) for 6 months was practiced by 81 (41.7%) mothers. Bottle feeding was seen in 7 (3.6%) cases. Weight gain during infancy was found to be maximum when infants were EBF for 6 months (P<0.001) and weaned with semi-solid and solid diet alone in the following 6 months (P=0.002). Gain in all anthropometric measurements was more in the initial 6 months of infancy compared to latter. Four (2.1%) infants were malnourished. Oil massage before bath was practiced by 189 (97.4%) mothers. Over 50% mothers practiced oil application to eyes or ears of infants. Delayed initiation of bath (beyond 1week) was seen in 15 (7.7%) cases.
Faulty rearing practices need to be corrected in order to improve the health status of infants.
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