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Open Access Research article

Sub-optimal breastfeeding of infants during the first six months and associated factors in rural communities of Jimma Arjo Woreda, Southwest Ethiopia

Dessalegn Tamiru1, Tefera Belachew2*, Eskindir Loha3 and Shikur Mohammed1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Arbaminch University, Arbaminch, Ethiopia

2 Department of Population and family Health, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia

3 Department of Public Health, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:363  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-363

Published: 18 May 2012



Studies have shown that sub-optimal breastfeeding is major contributor to infant and young child mortality in Ethiopia. To address this problem, infant and young child feeding guideline was developed in 2004 and interventions have been going on based on the guidelines. There is no study that assessed whether the infant and child feeding practices are according the guideline or not. This study was carried out to assess sub-optimal breastfeeding practices and associated factors among infants from birth to six months in rural communities of Jimma Arjo Woreda in the Southwest Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional study was carried out from December to January 2009. Quantitative data were collected from a sample of 382 respondents supplemented by qualitative data generated using in-depth interviews of 15 index mothers. Multivariable logistic regression model was used to identify predictors of timely initiation of breast feeding and non-exclusive breast feeding among mother-infant pairs.


More than three fourth of mothers breastfeed their infants sub-optimally. Thirty-seven percent of mothers initiated breastfeeding later than one hour after delivery, which was significantly associated with not attending formal education (AOR = 1.05[95%CI: 1.03, 1.94]) and painful breastfeeding experiences (AOR = 5.02[95%CI: 1.01, 10.08]). The majority (67.02%) of mothers had no knowledge about exclusive breastfeeding. Non-exclusive breastfeeding was negatively associated with child’s age of 0-2 months (AOR: 0.27[95%CI: 0.16, 0.47) and 3-4 months (AOR = 0.43 [95%CI: 0.25, 0.73) and ownership of radio (AOR = 0.56[95%CI: 0.37, 0.88]), but positively associated with the practice of discarding colostrums (AOR = 1.78[95%CI: 1.09, 4.94]).


The findings showed that the majority of mothers sub-optimally breastfeed their children in the study area. As most of the mothers do not have knowledge on the exclusive breast feeding. Enhancing community based behavior change communications using multiple channels including radio and folk media is recommended to reduce sub-optimal breast feeding practices and associated consequences among children in the study area.