Breastfeeding practices and health-seeking behavior for neonatal sickness in a rural community

Kaushal, Monika ; Aggarwal, Rajiv ; Singal, Ashwani ; Shukla, Hemant ; Kapoor, Suresh K. ; Paul, Vinod K. (2005) Breastfeeding practices and health-seeking behavior for neonatal sickness in a rural community Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 51 (6). pp. 366-376. ISSN 0142-6338

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the knowledge of mothers and grandmothers regarding breastfeeding and health-seeking behavior for neonatal sickness in a rural community. A cross-sectional survey, using a triangulation of qualitative (focus group discussion) and quantitative (structured questionnaire) methods was carried out. Although most of the grandmothers and mothers believed in early feeding within 2 h of delivery, they often administered prelacteal feeds such as ghutti and honey. Colostrum was considered beneficial. Most respondents believed that ghutti, water, or both should be given along with breastmilk. Diluted buffalo milk was the preferred choice if supplementation was required. It was thought that weaning should be introduced after 6 months of life. Mothers preferred to give dalia and khichri as the initial weaning food compared to roti and dal water by grandmothers. Both grandmothers and mothers felt that a baby who was playful and not crying excessively was usually healthy. Most of the respondents described the normal pattern of breathing, feeding, urination, and defecation adequately. Most of the grandmothers and mother's felt that by touching forehead and limbs of baby could reliably assess temperature. Refusal to feed was considered as a marker of a sickness by most grandmothers and mothers. However, they also believed that health-seeking for poor feeding could be delayed for 1 day. Respiratory distress was described by the presence of fast respiration, chest retractions, or noisy breathing. Most respondents did not know how to assess cyanosis or seizures. Jaundice was descried as yellowish discoloration of skin, eyes, and urine. Failure to pass urine for 4-6 h bothered most of the respondents. The first response to illness was home remedies. The choice of healthcare was unqualified village practitioners followed by government hospital. Knowledge regarding desirable breastfeeding practices was inadequate and quite a few inappropriate beliefs were widely prevalent. Although knowledge regarding sickness was present, health-seeking from qualified providers was considerably delayed with most respondents preferring village practitioners to government hospitals.

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