Factors affecting Initiation and Exclusivity of Breastfeeding in QATIF, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Taghreed AL Shaban

Saudi Board in Family Medicine Residency Program – Dammam University –  2012


Objective: To define the possible factors that affect initiation and exclusivity of breastfeeding – recommended by WHO – in primary health care attendees in Qatif area, Saudi Arabia and to determine factors affecting the decision to breastfeed. Setting: The study was conducted specifically in eight Primary Care centres at Qatif / Saudi Arabia.

Method: Cross-sectional analytic study with multistage sampling technique; eight primary care centres were selected and 400 subjects were randomly enrolled in the study. Data was collected using a validated questionnaire for interviewing the subjects. It started from November 2011 to January 2012. Analysis was done using SPSS version 16. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the independent variables that affect initiation and decision of breastfeeding.

Results: About 40% of study population was using mixed type of feeding and the reasons of adding bottle-feeding were “insufficient breast milk” (36.9%) and “return to work” (26.3%). Initiation of breastfeeding within one hour after delivery was reported in 33.5% of the study population. Only 9.5% practiced exclusive breastfeeding at six months of age. Complementary feeding was started in more than half of infants less than six months of age. Initiation of breastfeeding was significantly affected by mode of delivery, parity, infant health status and receiving help for breastfeeding by medical staff. Exclusivity was found to be negatively associated with use of pacifier, return to work and choosing mixed type of feeding.

Conclusion: Two thirds of study population have chosen breastfeeding and about one third of study population initiated breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery. A small proportion of mothers practiced exclusive breastfeeding at six months of age. Assisted delivery, parity and other factors were found to be significantly associated to initiation of breastfeeding with varying degrees. Many factors were found to affect the decision to breastfeed. It is recommended that polices of the BFHI should be strictly followed. This means hospital and PHC staff need to be re- trained and/ or updated. The investigator recommends intensive health education program for promoting breastfeeding at PHC centres. Special attention need to be given to high – risk mothers to encourage early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding.




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