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Maternal and child factors associated with timely initiation of breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Francis Appiah, Bright Opoku Ahinkorah, Eugene Budu, Joseph Kojo Oduro, Francis Sambah, Linus Baatiema, Edward Kwabena Ameyaw, and Abdul-Aziz Seidu
Source: International Breastfeeding Journal , Volume 16, Article number: 55; DOI:
Topic(s): Breastfeeding
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JUL 2021
Abstract: Background The probability of not breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery (timely initiation of breastfeeding) is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we examined the maternal and child factors associated with timely initiation of breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods We pooled data from 29 sub-Saharan African countries’ Demographic and Health Surveys conducted from 2010 to 2018. A total of 60,038 childbearing women were included. Frequencies, percentages, and binary logistic regression analyses were carried out. Binary logistic regression was used to examine the maternal and child factors associated with timely initiation of breastfeeding and the results were presented as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) at 95% confidence interval (CI). Results We found a prevalence of 55.81% of timely initiation of breastfeeding in the sub-region. The country with the highest prevalence of timely initiation of breastfeeding was Burundi (86.19%), whereas Guinea had the lowest prevalence (15.17%). The likelihood of timely initiation of breastfeeding was lower among married women, compared to never married women (aOR 0.91; 95% CI 0.85, 0.98); working women compared to non-working women (aOR 0.90; 95% CI 0.87, 0.93); women who watched television at least once a week, compared to those who never watched television (aOR 0.74; 95% CI 0.70, 0.78); women who delivered through caesarean section, compared to vaginal birth (aOR 0.30; 95% CI 0.27, 0.32); and those with multiple births, compared to those with single births (aOR 0.67; 95% CI 0.59, 0.76). Women who lived in Central Africa were less likely to initiate breastfeeding timely compared to those who lived in West Africa (aOR 0.80; 95% CI 0.75, 0.84). Conclusions The findings call for the need for a behavioural change communication programmes, targeted at timely initiation of breastfeeding, to reverse and close the timely initiation of breastfeeding gaps stratified by the maternal and child factors. Prioritising policies to enhance timely initiation of breastfeeding is needed, particularly among Cental African countries where timely initiation of breastfeeding remains a challenge. Sufficient supportive care, especially for mothers with multiple births and those who undergo caesarean section, is needed to resolve timely initiation of breastfeeding inequalities.